Latest Employment Data

Latest Employment Data: Good or Bad?

Each month here on the Blawg, we update all the latest employment indicators in the handy box to the right within nanoseconds of their release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s the latest . . .

Employment Situation Up (Barely)

According to the government’s office figures, total nonfarm payroll employment was up a minuscule 18,000 – below the 125,000 projected by economists and far below the 200,000 figure economists say is needed to sustain growth.

After average gains of 200,000+ from February through April, employment has been essentially flat for the past 2 months.  Employment in most sectors changed little in June, while government employment continued to drop.

In short, small private sector gains outweighed government job losses.  What exactly is up?  Not much:

  • Leisure & Hospitality (+34,000)
  • Professional & Technical Services (+24,000)
  • Health Care (+14,000), mostly in ambulatory care
  • Mining (+8,000), mostly in support activities

Manufacturing and construction both were essentially flat for the second month in a row. Temporary employment services changes little in June and have been essentially flat all year. Government employment dropped another 39,000.

Unemployment Up (Barely)

The unemployment rate edged up slightly again from 9.1% to 9.2% – the highest it’s been this year. Since March, the number of unemployed persons has jumped 545,000, and the unemployment rate has risen 0.4%.

The number of unemployed rose to 14.1 million. The number of long-term unemployed (defined as jobless for 27 weeks or longer) rose by 412,000 to 6.3 million.

Unemployment remains far above the 6% rate considered “full employment” by most economists.

Labor Force Participation Down Slightly

Many economists feel that the unemployment rate is somewhat misleading due to what the data omits.  Instead, some rely more on overall labor force participation and the employment population ratio.

Labor force participation decreased .1% to 64.1%. The employment-population ratio also dropped a bit – .02% to 58.2%.

Another number examined by economists is “discouraged workers” (those not currently seeking employment because they believe no work is available). That number rose 19% to 982,000 versus last month (but is 225,000 lower than last June).

What Does This All Mean?

Jobs up slightly. Labor force participation down slightly. Unemployment up slightly. What does that mean?

Words used to describe the jobs report thus far have ranged from “dismal” to “depressing.” The Wall Street Journal said: “The jobs report painted another bleak economic picture, prompting concerns that the recovery continues to muddle along.” Click here for all the latest chatter on the jobs picture and its effect on the market.

As ManpowerGroup’s CEO Jeff Joerres rather aptly put it: “There are always going to be potholes on the road to recovery due to its elongated nature.”

(Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Wall Street Journal, ManpowerGroup)


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