Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Unemployment climbs again in August, 216,000 net jobs lost


A year earlier, the number of unemployed persons was 9.6 million, and the jobless rate was 6.2 percent. [BLS]

White 8.9%
African American 15.1%
Hispanic 13.0%
Asian** 7.5%

Men 20 years and over 10.1%
Women 20 years and over 7.6%
Teen-agers (16-19 years) 25.5%
Black teens 34.7%
Officially unemployed 14.9 million


Working part-time because can't find a full-time job:
9.1 million

People who want jobs but are not looking so are not counted in official statistics (of which about 2.3 million** searched for work during the prior 12 months and were available for work during the reference week.)
5.6 million

Total: 29.6 million (18.5% of the labor force)


*See Uncommon Sense #4 for an explanation of the unemployment measures.
**Not seasonally adjusted.

In addition, millions more were working full-time, year-round, yet earned less than the official poverty level for a family of four. In 2007, the latest year available, that number was 17.6 million, 16.2 percent of full-time workers (estimated from Current Population Survey, Bur. of the Census, 2008).

In June, 2009, the latest month available, the number of job openings was only 2.6 million, according to the BLS, Job Openings andLabor Turnover Estimates, August 12, 2009.+ Thus there are more than 11 job-wanters for each available job.[Numbers are not comparable with previous months as methods have been revised.]

Mass layoffs: "Employers initiated 2,994 mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2009 that resulted in the separation of 534,881 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both the numbers of extended mass layoff events and associated separations were record highs for a second quarter (with data availableback to 1995).

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Analysis: "The slower rate of job loss is the result of further moderation in the pace of job loss in the sectors that have been the biggest job losers. Construction lost 65,000 jobs in August, down from 119,000 per month between October and March. Most of this job loss is now coming from the non-residential sector. This is not surprising since residential construction has stabilized in the last couple of months, while a glut in the non-residential market is leading to a sharp contraction in this sector. Stimulus-related jobs will be an offsetting factor..... This report, like the prior three reports, shows a slowing pace of job loss. It is important to recognize that this rate of job loss, especially when adding in the upward revisions, would be considered disastrous at any other time. The labor market is still deteriorating, albeit less rapidly." Baker, CEPR, 9/4/09

"The good news is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is providing a significant boost to the labor market. Over the last three months, the labor market has shed an average of 318,000 jobs per month. By comparison, in the first quarter of this year, the labor market shed an average of nearly 700,000 jobs per month. The ARRA is likely saving or creating between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs a month, for a total of around 1.2 million saved or created since its implementation. ...To keep up with population growth, the economy needs to add approximately 127,000 jobs every month, which translates into 2.5 million jobs over the 20 months of the recession. This means the labor market is currently 9.4 million jobs below where it would need to be to maintain a pre-recession unemployment rate. " Jobs Picture, Shierholz, EPI, 9/4/09

"Focusing on the long-term unemployed is urgent because the challenges of those out of work remain significant—more so than in any prior recession. Once workers lose their job, it continues to be extremely difficult to get back into the workforce. The typical worker is now spending 15.4 weeks unemployed, which means that one-half of workers are finding a job in less time, but one-half are taking longer—often much longer—to find a new job." CAP Boushey, 9/4/09

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