All Articles Tagged "unemployment rate"

The Unemployment Rate Has Dropped To 6.1 Percent, The Lowest Since The Economy Collapsed

July 3rd, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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June jobs numbers were released this morning and it’s got onlookers very happy.

The US economy added 288,000, a rate that moves beyond what has been seen so far in 2014. The figure pushed the unemployment rate down to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008 when the economy imploded. At the beginning of 2013, the rate was 7.9 percent.

Of course, this wave of employment hasn’t spread evenly throughout the recovery. For African Americans, the unemployment rate is 10.7 percent, though it’s worth noting that’s a decrease of .8 percent from last month, the largest drop since April when the unemployment rate fell by the same percentage value from the month prior.

And Generation Opportunity, a youth advocacy group, points out that the unemployment rate for millennials ages 19 to 29 is still 15.2 percent. Those rates increase when you look specifically at Hispanic and black young people.

But the increase was such good news for investors that the Dow opened and quickly rose to 17,000, the highest rate ever.

Still, wages haven’t gone up dramatically; only two percent in the past year. The participation rate is still 62.8 percent for the third consecutive month. And the number of people who are working part-time because they have no choice actually rose by 275,000. In fact, while a higher proportion of Americans are working than we’ve seen in a while, how much they’re working, the industries they’re working in and how much they’re making still seems to be a bit of a mash up of good and merely OK. You can’t really say things are going well when there’s a segment of the population that’s being left out.

Professional and business services saw the highest gains with 67,000 jobs added. Next is retail and food service. Then manufacturing and financial services.

What are you seeing from your vantage point? Are things looking up?

via The New York Times and The Washington Post

US Regains All Jobs Lost During The Recession But There’s Still A Need For Work

June 9th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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A job seeker in San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A job seeker in San Francisco

Jobs numbers for May show 217,000 jobs were added to the US economy for the month, results that The New York Times says demonstrate that the country has moved into “a healthy, if not spectacular, pace of job creation.” With these additional jobs, the country has regained all of the 8.7 million jobs lost during the recession. Still, the unemployment rate remains at 6.3 percent.

The unemployment rate for African Americans dropped one-tenth of a percent to 11.5 percent, still far exceeding the national average.

Not only are there demographics like African Americans who still struggle to find work. There are 15 million additional people on the job hunt. So despite the steady addition of 200,000 jobs per month, there are many who are still looking for an opportunity. The labor force population is still 62.8 percent of working age people, a figure that is closer to the 1970s days of financial stress, the NYT says. In fact, high school drop outs and those with only a high school diploma saw their unemployment rate actually rise slightly. Teens still have an unemployment rate of 19.2 percent.

For companies, there has been plenty of good financial news with the stock market booming, but they’re only now starting to take dips into the job pool and do some hiring. Professional and business services, healthcare and social assistance each added 55,000 jobs, and leisure services, particularly restaurants, added 32,000 jobs. The government and the US Postal Service are down from a few years ago.

Also, we must take into account that the jobs that have come back are not the ones that were lost necessarily. For instance, manufacturing is still down. But middle wage jobs appear to be growing, according to CNN Money, a good thing given the months in which low wage jobs like those in retail were the primary gains.

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez noted the lingering problems in his remarks about the numbers. “We’re moving in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do. There are way too many people who are still on the sidelines,” he said.

A Rebounding Job Market? Nearly 50% Of Unemployed Americans Have Given Up Job Hunting

May 28th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Is the government painting a misleading picture of America’s job landscape? Recent job reports have used words such as “rebounding,” “improving,” and “snap back,” which all allude to an optimistic outlook for the job market. But — eh – Policy Mic just isn’t buying it!

The April jobs report boasted that the unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent. But Policy Mic says that the government neglects to reveal one thing: 47 percent of unemployed Americans, according to a Harris Poll survey commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, have “completely” abandoned their job search.

The poll, which surveyed 1,500 unemployed adults, also found that 46 percent did not attend a job interview the month prior. Nearly a quarter revealed they haven’t had an interview since 2012. As for government assistance, 80 percent of respondents are not receiving jobless benefits.

“This survey shows that millions of Americans are at risk of falling into the trap of prolonged unemployment, and it should give policymakers a greater sense of urgency to focus on the singular goal of creating jobs,” Bob Funk,CEO of Express, said in a press release.

Another fact that the April job report “forgot” to mention? The labor force is also experiencing its lowest participation rate in decades — 62.8 percent. That figure is the percentage of workers, over the age of 16, who are currently employed in the job market. Think about it. Is the unemployment rate dropping because oh-so-many jobs are being created or because more people are leaving the workforce?

These statistics, Policy Mic points out, affects America’s youngest employees the most. In fact, the survey’s respondents tended to be of a younger age since “more than half of all unemployed are under 40 and one third are under the age of 30.”  Guess it’s not looking too good for Class of 2014, huh?

“. . .[T]he nation’s job market continues to force college graduates to take jobs they’re overqualified for, jobs outside their major, and generally delay their career to the detriment of at least a decade’s worth of unearned wages,” USA Today said.

Among Americans between 25 and 34, the April jobs report noted a drop from 75.9 to 75.5 percent in the unemployment rate. But like Policy Mic, Labor Market Economist Heidi Shierholz  points out that job creation has nothing to do with it. “The entire drop (in unemployment) was due to people dropping out of the labor force, in particular young people,” she said.

“Unfortunately for young Americans,” said Evan Feinberg, president of Generation Opportunity, a youth advocacy organization, “the recession never ended.”

With 288K New Jobs, US Unemployment Rate Falls To 6.3%, But Fewer People Are In The Workforce

May 2nd, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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A Los Angeles job fair. via Getty Images

A Los Angeles job fair. via Getty Images

The country added 288,000 jobs for the month of April, driving down the unemployment rate to 6.3 percent, the lowest point since September 2008. This after a couple of months where growth was modest, though there were revisions upward to the numbers for February and March. The monthly average for the last year has only been 197,000, so the jump last month was significant.

Construction and retail both added more than 30,000 jobs and other economic activity is reportedly up. The number of long-term unemployed is down 287,000, 35.3 percent of the total unemployed.

However, the civilian labor force is down by 806,000 (not a good thing), the number of part-time workers is unchanged at 7.5 million and the number of “marginally attached” workers, those who have been looking for work, has stayed the same at 2.2 million.

And then there are the continued higher-than-average unemployment numbers for teenagers, the under-educated, and blacks. In the black community, the unemployment rate is at 11.6 percent. That’s a big improvement from the 12.4 percent rate last month, but still almost double the national average.

So the job market is showing signs of life, though there are lingering issues that seem to impact specific groups. Economists from an organization called the Conference Board say we can actually look forward to a labor shortage, with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.8 percent due to the mass exodus of retiring baby boomers. The “natural rate” of unemployment will drop to 5.5 percent by next year, they predict.

However, the number of people who will  have the skill set necessary to fill new openings will also drop because the long-term unemployed have not been able to keep up with changes in the market, prompting employers to ask people not to retire. (Based on what we’ve been seeing, there’s also the issue of whether some workers are getting the necessary skills to start with, namely the digital skills to keep up with technology changes.)

Moreover, pay increases have not kept up with inflation, which impacts the financial security people feel and their spending power.

So there’s lots of good news this morning from the jobs report, but there’s also a big ol’ grain of salt to go along with that.

[via The New York Times, Bureau of Labor StatisticsUSA Today, The Wall Street Journal]

The US Added 192,000 Jobs In March, But Black Unemployment Still Above 12 Percent

April 4th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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A DC job fair. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A DC job fair. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The US economy added 192,000 jobs for the month of March, a positive outcome that many attribute to better weather, which had a positive impact on construction (which added 19,000) and other areas. We also noticed a huge uptick — 30,000 jobs — in food services and drinking, indicating that better weather is getting more people out to restaurants and bars. And with more jobs and more money to spend, it could be impacting hiring.

Health care and business services were also strong areas.

Experts had been hoping for 200,000 jobs (we’re sure the unemployed were also hoping for more), but the result is in keeping with the average for the beginning of 2014. With these added jobs, the unemployment rate still holds steady at 6.7 percent. The New York Times has two useful graphs that shows both the change in the number of jobs added over the past two years and the effect on the unemployment rate.

“More people found work and more people joined the labor force,” notes The Wall Street Journal, though it’s important to keep in mind that those jobs were added in the private sector. Government hiring remained flat.

“Overall, the latest payroll numbers suggest the economy is gaining some traction and could be poised for faster growth in the coming months,” the article continued.

It’s also important to remember that 7.4 million people who are working part-time would rather be working full-time. The number of long-term unemployed (people unemployed 27 weeks or more) totals 3.7 million.

Equally critical is the fact that African-American unemployment is 12.4 percent, almost double the national average. That’s actually up .4 percent from last month and up from the low of 11.9 percent in December. So while the jobs situation is slowly improving, the state of things for the black community is still bleak. And the jobs situation has to improve for everyone if we’re really going to consider it a positive.

Unemployment Rate Inches Up To 6.7 Percent, 175K Jobs Added In February

March 7th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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An unemployment rally at the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

An unemployment rally at the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Experts thought the terrible weather nationwide would put a halt to job growth. But the US added 175,000 jobs in February, a decent showing given the slowdown in December and January. However, the average job growth for the past year has been 189,000, so the lower figure pushed the unemployment rate up .1 percent to 6.7 percent. The unemployment rate for blacks held steady at disheartening 12 percent.

The number of long-term unemployed – 27 weeks or more — was up to 3.8 million in February, an increase of 203,000. That’s 37 percent of the total number of unemployed people. On a slightly more positive note, the number of people marginally attached to the labor force — those who have looked for work but have had trouble finding it — is down 285,000 over the past year to 2.3 million. A chunk of this group, 755,000 people, are discouraged by the search, but that’s down by 130,000 year-over-year.

“The healthier-than-expected gain in hiring in February is likely to remove some of the anxiety that has been hanging over the economy because of the weak labor market data in the previous two months, as well as other gloomy signals like a downward revision in the government’s estimate of economic growth late last year and a decidedly mixed holiday shopping season for many retailers,” The New York Times writes. The paper predicts that the relatively positive results indicate that the Fed will continue to wind down stimulus efforts that were put in place to counteract the effects of The Great Recession.

booker tweet uiStill, there is the problem of the long-term unemployed (those out of work more than six months). More than two million people have been without benefits since they expired in December 2013. Those benefits began in 2008, at the beginning of the recession under George W. Bush, but disagreements between Republicans and Democrats in Congress about how to pay for them has kept them from being reenacted. Florida and New Jersey are among the states that have been hardest hit by this lack of benefits since they have high populations of long-term unemployed. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted last night that a vote could come next week.

That #RenewUI hashtag is where supporters of a renewal of those long-term unemployment benefits have been voicing their opinions.

 

Yikes! Experts Estimate One 1 Of 5 Blacks Were Unemployed At Some Point In 2013

January 16th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Shutterstock

The official unemployment rate for 2013 was 7.4 percent. But this figure is only a calculation of the average unemployment rate per month. Looking at the bigger picture, experts estimate that 12.7 percent of the workforce was unemployed at some point during the year. The numbers for African Americans, according to Economic Policy Institute (EPI), were even bleaker.

The EPI dismisses the official unemployment rate — it “understates the number of people who are unemployed at some point over a longer period.” By just looking the average unemployment rate per month, workers who were employed in one month and discharged the next — for example — slip under the radar.

So analyzing the share of employees who were out-of-a-job at some point during 2013, researchers discovered that one out of every eight workers was unemployed. Among Africa -Americans, this figure bloats to one in five.

The official unemployment rate for Black Americans in 2013 was 13.1 percent. “This is far higher than the highest overall annual unemployment rate over the last 70 years,” the researchers write. But again, this figure only looks at the average monthly unemployment rate. Analyzing the share of African Americans who were unemployed at some point this year, the number is a staggering 20 percent.

While the experts at EPI foresee an improvement for the over-the-year employment rate for African-Americans in 2014, it’s still relatively high at 17.4 percent.

“The labor market is improving extremely slowly for all major groups, but the employment situation of African Americans remains at something more akin to depression-level conditions,” EPI concludes.

Disappointing Report Shows Only 74,000 Jobs Were Added In December

January 10th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Job seekers waiting in line for 750 construction positions available in NYC in August. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Job seekers waiting in line for 750 construction positions available in NYC in August. Some waited for days. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Experts, who had expected the economy to create 200,000 during the month of December, were disappointed to learn this morning that only 74,000 jobs were added. This is the lowest number of job additions since January 2011. In both 2012 and 2013, the month saw 182,500 jobs added. And in November, the unemployment rate dropped to seven percent, giving the impression that things were on an upward swing that showed no signs of slowing. (The number of jobs added that month was actually revised higher from 203,000 to 241,000.)

Besides the retail area, which added 55,000 for holiday sales, other areas of usual growth like construction and health care showed decline. Governments on the federal, state, and local level shed 16,000 jobs. And the underemployment rate — people who are working part-time who would like full-time jobs as well as people who have given up the search — is at 13.1 percent.

On a positive note, the unemployment rate for African Americans has dropped to 11.9 percent from 12.4 percent in December. The unemployment rate for black men is 11.5 percent; for black women, 10.4 percent.

A few other points of interest from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average hourly earnings for nonfarm payroll employees inched up two cents to $24.17.

The average work week became a little shorter, down .1 hour to 34.4 hours. For manufacturing, it’s 41 hours.

The unemployment rate for adults over the age of 25 who have a bachelor’s degree or more is 3.3 percent. For adults with a high school diploma but no college, it’s 7.1 percent. For those with some college or an Associate’s degree, it’s 6.8 percent.

An average of 182,000 jobs were added in 2013. And 2.18 million jobs were added for the year.

The Fed had been planning to wind down some of its economic stimulus efforts this year, but the agency (now led by Janet Yellen) may reconsider that in light of this report.

Unemployment Rate Hits A Five-Year Low Of 7% , Rate Among Blacks At 12.5%

December 6th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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A fast food protester in Chicago yesterday. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

A fast food protester in Chicago yesterday. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

November jobs numbers show that the unemployment rate has dropped to seven percent, the lowest in five years. According to the Labor Department, the country added 203,000 nonfarm jobs last month. And the number of jobs added for September and October was revised up by 8,000. The strength of this report has some thinking that the Federal Reserve, which has taken measures to jump start the economy since its decline in 2008 (the start of the Great Recession) such as lowering interest rates, will reduce stimulus measures in the near future. That’s a fear that’s been around for months as the economy has added jobs and the unemployment rate has slowly crept lower.

Overall, experts told Reuters that this is a strong report. Not only was there improvement in the jobs landscape, but the economy expanded by 3.6 percent between July and September, the largest amount since 2012. Although consumer spending is at a low, which hasn’t been a good thing for the holiday shopping season. And all of this despite the government shutdown at the beginning of October.

The picture still isn’t quite so rosy for the black community, which still suffers with a 12.5 percent unemployment rate. The rate for whites is 6.2 percent; for Hispanics, 8.7 percent; and for Asians, 5.3 percent. The rate for African Americans is lower than the 13.1 percent from last month, but still rests above 12 percent, an unemployment rate that has persisted for the entire quarter and for many of the months prior.

Job increases were seen across the board, with retailers (22,000 jobs) and the food services industry (18,000) doing lots of hiring as usual in the low-paying end, but also gains in the healthcare industry (28,000), professional and business services (35,000) and manufacturing (27,000), which pay more. Some of these jobs are those that would require extra training or an associates degree. Here are a couple of previous MN Business stories (here and here).

But looking to the future of the job market, STEM is the place to be. According to a story in this week’s issue of New York magazine, some parents are starting to push their children into extracurriculars that teach computer science and computer coding. “By 2020, the industry expects to have a million more positions than it can fill,” the article says. “Nine out of ten US high schools don’t offer computer programming, and fewer than one college student in 40 graduates with a degree in the field.” There are also lots of new positions that have popped up because of development in areas like social media. We break those down here.

In the meantime, we still have tons of workers who are clamoring for these low-paying jobs that, even with hours of work each week, aren’t paying a living wage. CNN says that two Walmarts that opened in the DC area, 23,000 people applied for 600 jobs, reports CNNMoney, meaning each applicant had a 2.6 percent chance of getting a job. And yesterday, fast-food workers across the country protested for a $15 per hour pay raise. Union organizers like Fast Food Forward paid protesters at a rate of $7.25 per hour so they could afford to walk off the job for a shift. One woman tells CNN that the $50 she was paid made it possible for her to participate in the protest. A Gallup poll released last month shows 76 percent of Americans support a raise in the minimum wage to $9 per hour, with support from both Republicans and Democrats.

[via Reuters, the AP, Bureau of Labor Statistics]

VA Department Solving Problem Of Veteran Benefits Backlog, But Unemployment Remains High

November 11th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Getty Images

Today we honor our veterans and the sacrifices they make on our behalf. And in return, they should receive the benefits they’re entitled to and steady employment so they can support themselves at home. Unfortunately, they’ve had troubles on both fronts.

First, the good. For too long, veterans were facing extensive delays in getting the benefits they’re entitled to, with a backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs that could span for months, if not a full year. More than 256,000 vets were waiting. Finally, after a report from The Center for Investigative Reporting, the wait has dropped by four months, and the number of vets who have been attended to totals 34,000. Still a far cry from a job well done, but certainly an improvement.

A new computer system is helping, and the VA is predicting that no veteran will wait longer than 125 days for processing by 2015. The goal is to be caught up by December 2014, according to The Daily Beast. Workers at the VA attribute mandatory overtime during the past five months (to the tune of millions of dollars) for the progress and worry that they could once again fall behind. But a commitment to staying on top of things (and maybe hiring more workers) could prevent that.

On a negative note, a chart from the Council of Economic Advisers shows the unemployment rate for recent vets is around 10 percent, higher than the nationwide average of 7.3 percent. (The overall unemployment rate for vets is 6.9 percent.) The reasons, according to The Washington Post: vets have higher disability rates, they tend to lack work experience in the civilian world, and hurdles for making the transition back to civilian life are high.

WaPo reports that many states are trying to make that transition easier, a bit of light at the end of that tunnel.

We thank all of the brave vets and active military for their service. Let’s press the government to make their welfare a priority.