All Articles Tagged "unemployment rate"

Job Creation Slows In March To 126,000

April 3rd, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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The US economy only added 126,000 jobs in March, the lowest number since December 2013. The unemployment rate was unchanged — 5.5 percent — but there are fears of a slowdown. The average number of jobs added each month of the first quarter of this year was 197,000 versus 324,000 during the final quarter of 2014.

Experts are blaming the harsh winter for the decline. They had expected an addition 248,000 in March.

But there are other indicators that the economy is tapping the brakes. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at an impressive 5% pace in the third quarter last year, then slowed to a 2.2% growth rate in the fourth quarter. Closely watched gauges of consumer spending, business investment and manufacturing output have all pointed to a further slowdown in the first quarter, which ended earlier this week.

Fed chief Janet Yellen says she’s still confident that the economy is on an upward trajectory.

Wages rose seven cents to $24.86, up 2.1 percent for the year. This positive wage news is coupled with word from McDonald’s, Target and a number of other large companies that they will be giving workers raises.

Another bit of positive news: the number of people filing for unemployment fell to a 15-year low of 268,000 last week.

Now back to the negative news: the unemployment rate for Blacks is 10.1 percent. That’s a decrease from 10.4 percent last month, but still nearly twice the national average.

“The unemployment rate for Black communities is crisis level, even as the economy gets closer and closer to a full recovery,” Valerie Wilson from the Economic Policy Institute tells The New York TimesMedian hourly wages for Blacks have also fallen 3.6 percent over the course of the recession, twice that of whites.

National Unemployment Rate At 5.7%; Black Unemployment Still Above 10%

February 6th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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The US economy added a better-than-expected 257,000 jobs during the month of January, inspiring many who had given up the search for work to head back into the hunt. The national unemployment average increased from 5.6 percent to 5.7 percent.

The government even went back and increased the number of jobs added in November and December by 147,000, making November the strongest month we’ve seen in a long time (423,000 jobs added).

“Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected payrolls to rise 237,000 in January and the jobless rate to fall to 5.5%,” the newspaper says.

“The report suggested employers maintained enough confidence to keep expanding in 2015 following the best year of job growth during the current expansion,” the article continued.

And to keep the good news coming, average wages also increased 2.2 percent over last year to $24.75 per hour. That’s for the same amount of work hours per week, 34.6. It’s not going to make anyone rich, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Healthcare, retailers, construction and professional and business services were leading the charge in hiring.

But unfortunately, as we report every month it seems, employment numbers for African Americans lags behind the national average at 10.3 percent, nearly double. A closer look at the numbers also shows that it’s Black men who are especially hurting, with an unemployment rate of 10.6. For Black women, it’s 8.7 percent. The Washington Post notes that Blacks are the only group besides teens with an unemployment rate above 10 percent. A chart posted in that story shows that the unemployment rate for Blacks has gone above 15 percent in the past few years.

But, it’s worth noting that that high point happened after the high points for Whites and Hispanics. “This means this demographic group [Black Americans] has had less time to recover from that high,” the paper says hopefully. “If we shift all of the groups to the same starting point (peak unemployment), you can see that black unemployment is still dropping more slowly relative to the peak, but less dramatically different. In other words, the trajectory is similar; it’s just happening a bit later.”

As a whole, consumers are benefiting from more hiring and lower gas prices. Let’s all hope for continued recovery for everyone.

h/t USA Today

Black Unemployment Rate May Hit Single-Digits By Mid-2015

January 13th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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From a big picture perspective, last week’s jobs report, which boasted a 5.8 to 5.6 percent drop in unemployment — sounds pretty inspiring. It is, after all, the lowest unemployment rate since June 2008, before the Great Recession. But zooming in on the Black jobless rate, that figure is nearly twice the national average at 10.4 percent. Worry not, though — there is hope! Analysts foresee a single-digit jobless rate on the horizon.

According to BlackVoiceNews, Black Americans may see the unemployment rate dip down below 10 percent by mid-2015.

“If the same trends in the labor force participation rate and the decline in the unemployment rate that we saw in 2014 continue into 2015, the Black unemployment rate should get down to the single digits by the middle of this year,” said Wilson, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE) at Economic Policy Institute.

Wilson analyzed the labor force participation rate, which includes those who are currently working or actively looking for a job, and the employment-population ratio. “She found that Blacks had the biggest increase in both measures from December 2013 to December 2014,” BlackVoiceNews wrote.

Though the Black unemployment rate still hovers at a disheartening double-digit percentage, it did decrease from 11 percent in November and 11.8 percent from the year prior. Focusing on the labor force performance of Black women over the age of 20, BlackVoiceNews notes a decrease from 9.5 percent in November to 8.2 percent in December. For comparison, White women saw their jobless rate slide from 4.5 percent to 4.4 during the same period.

As for Black men over the age of 20, the unemployment rate trickled down from 11.2 percent to 11 percent from November to December. White men saw their November 4.6 percent jobless rate drop to 4.4 percent in December.

During a Q&A Facebook session with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one inquirer posed that very question about why there is such a stark difference between Black and White unemployment rates:

“Why is it that under the First African-American POTUS only African Americans have had double digit unemployment his entire term and why nothing is being done to address that crisis?” Heyward Johnson asked.

“The unemployment rate for African Americans has fallen 6.4 percentage points since its peak in March 2010. It is close to its pre-recession level but is still unconscionably high. The President’s investments in skills, highway infrastructure and minimum wage help all workers, including African Americans. In addition, the President has targeted specific investments through his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, Promise Zones, and Secure Cities, Secure Communities initiative to help address the persistent unemployment and opportunity gaps in minority communities,” Perez replied.

Wilson would assure Johnson that the labor force projections for African Americans looks optimistic: “The African American workforce is benefiting from the job growth that is taking place right now and the longer that continues, the better it’s going to be for those communities.”

“The country added 252,000 jobs last month, higher than the anticipated 240,000,” MadameNoire wrote. “An average of 246,000 jobs were added each month in 2014, the highest since 1999.”

Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.6 Percent For US, Remains At 10.4 Percent For Blacks

January 9th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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Jobs numbers released this morning show that the unemployment rate in the US has dropped from 5.8 percent to 5.6 percent. This is the lowest unemployment rate since June 2008, before the big meltdown. Professional services, construction and healthcare led the way on industries that hired last month.

The country added 252,000 jobs last month, higher than the anticipated 240,000. According to USA Today, the numbers for October and November have also been revised higher, with 50,000 more jobs than first reported added to the figures. An average of 246,000 jobs were added each month in 2014, the highest since 1999. Let us take a moment to look at these wise words from our neighbors to the North with regards to our President Barack Obama. And Jon Stewart’s commentary about new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

However, it’s not all good news. Already sluggish wages actually fell five cents to $24.57. The big concern, besides getting people back to work, is getting them a living wage and an income that will generate spending. This doesn’t help.

And speaking of the concern about getting people back to work, one reason why the unemployment rate has dropped is 273,000 stopped looking for work. So the share of Americans who are members of the labor force matches the September low of 62.7 percent.

For Blacks, the numbers aren’t so rosy. African Americans have an unemployment rate nearly twice the national average at 10.4 percent. That’s actually down from 11 percent last month. It’s also lower than the 11.8 percent from a year ago.

Just so we can end on a happy note, we have Goldman Sachs’ forecast that the country will add another 300,000 jobs if oil prices stay as low as they have been. No doubt, if you have a car you’ve noticed how much less you’re spending to fill the tank. Oil prices have dropped below $50 a barrel. With the savings being passed on to the consumer, that means there’s more money to spend elsewhere. Experts hope that spending will drive employers to do more hiring. Some of the industries that USAT says could benefit are the restaurant and auto industries.

US Economy Added 321,000 Jobs In November, The Most In 3 Years, But Wages Are A Concern

December 5th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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The country added 321,000 jobs during the month of November, the most in three years, according to the Labor Department. But it’s wages, not just jobs, that are still a concern for the American economy. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent.

Despite this good news, the Black unemployment rate crept up from 10.9 percent to 11.1 percent. For Black men, the rate is 11.2 percent. For Black women, it’s 9.6 percent. The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) is 2.8 million, much the same as previous months. And the number of people working part-time when they would rather have a full-time job is also largely unchanged at 6.9 million.

The areas gaining the most jobs were temp help (23,000), retail (50,000) and manufacturing (28,000). The average workweek rose by .1 hour to 34.6 hours and the average wage went up nine cents to $24.66.

It’s those wage numbers that should be raising eyebrows. Simply put, people are working, but they’re not earning enough money to keep up with the cost of living.

“Economists had expected wage gains to accelerate the second half of the year,” reports USA Today, though experts are happy with the increase in hiring.

“Now that the labor market is tightening, however, employees may even feel confident enough to ask for a raise beyond the piddling 1% or 2% or so that many companies have been offering. So far this year, average hourly earnings have risen 2.1%,” writes a separate USAT story. When people have more money, the entire economy benefits. People can afford to buy more even if companies see a temporary dent in their bottom line to absorb the higher labor costs. Prices go up as a result. To offset what’s called a “wage-price spiral,” the Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates a bit. Those rates had been kept low as we worked our way out of the recession. Higher interest may sound all bad, but if you have any sort of savings account, that’s actually a good thing.

Still, even with all of that, there’s the issue of the minimum wage. Many families in this country struggle to make it on retail jobs, in fast-food work and in other low-paying positions. Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the first fast-food worker protest. The Fight for 15 campaign, which seeks $15 per hour, led protests in 150 cities this time around. The New York Times focuses on one of the campaign’s biggest supporters, Terrance Wise, who works two jobs at two fast-food restaurants and still, he says, his children live in poverty. Neither job pays more than $10 per hour. Wise, 35 years old, was a high school athlete who seemed well on his way before he had to drop out of high school to support his family after his two brothers went to prison.

That story also includes a wrenching video about a family that juggles a paper thin budget to keep their household going and medications for their children.

Wages for everyone, not just the one percent, need to increase if we’re really going to see the country bounce back and move forward. In the meantime, we mustn’t forget the people at the bottom of the wage scale, who are contributing members of society with families to support as well.

So often, even on this site in the comments section, there are those who say “Fast food jobs aren’t for adults. They’re stepping stones. Get more skills. Get a better job.” That’s all fine and well, but not everyone is in a position to do that. We have a responsibility as a society to provide the basics to those in tough circumstances so they can improve their lives. No one wants to work two jobs and still struggle to survive. We have to be better and do better. That means corporations and the highest earners have to contribute more.

Moreover, as we’ve discussed, when workers make more money, the economy as a whole benefits. So while we’re seeing some very bright lights in these monthly jobs numbers, we have to make sure the jobs people are getting will offer wages that sustain them and their families.

The Unemployment Rate Is Down To 5.9%, But Black Unemployment Is Nearly Twice That

October 3rd, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Hiring continued, and at a nice clip during the month of September with 288,000 jobs added to the US economy for the month. The total is enough to push the unemployment rate down to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent the previous month. This is the lowest point since 2008.

Still, the unemployment rate for Blacks is virtually unchanged at 11 percent. The unemployment rate for Blacks was 11.4 percent last month. For Whites, it’s 5.1 percent and Hispanics, 6.9 percent. And the number of people who are working part-time who’d rather have full-time work is still at 7.1 million.

Moreover, wages haven’t improved, dropping a penny since the last report for August. The workforce participation rate is also at the lowest point since 1978 at 62.7 percent.

These results exceeded economist expectations, and is the last report before the midterm elections. (Republicans are emphasizing that  workforce participation rate.) So expect to hear quite a bit about this going into November. For Black voters, it will be critical that we hear what’s going to be done to make sure that the job gains are being felt more evenly across all demographics. The economy cannot be considered “well” or “recovered” if a major demographic group has a jobless rate that’s about twice the national average.

We’ve been in touch with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out why the figure remains so high for Blacks even as it falls for other groups. We’ll update this story when we have more information.

via USA Today, Bureau of Labor Statistics and The New York Times

Small Business Hiring Experienced A Bump In September

October 2nd, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Small businesses, those with fewer than 50 employees, added 88,000 jobs to the economy in September, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report. That’s an increase from 82,000 in August, and 41 percent of all 213,000 jobs created for the month.

And even among this growth, the leaders were companies with fewer than 20 employees.

“These micro businesses added a total of 48,000 new employees in September, compared to 39,000 for businesses with between 20 and 49 employees.” says Fox Business.

It should be noted at this point, especially since it’s Women’s Small Business Month, that Black women are a big chunk of the nation’s small businesses. From DallasWeekly:

Today, 30 percent of all American businesses have a woman at the helm. African American women in particular are a driving force, establishing their enterprises at six times the national average, according to a 2013 American Express OPEN report. Between 1997 and 2013, African American women-owned businesses grew by 258 percent and made $226.8 billion in revenue. They employ 1.4 million people, which is more than the combined population of Atlanta, St. Louis and Miami.

Women in general, and Black women specifically, have large barriers to overcome in terms of government contracts and funding, with only “only 17 percent of U.S. Small Business Administration loans went to women entrepreneurs,” according to that DallasWeekly article. But many women, seeing their fortunes turn sour during the recession took the circumstance as a reason to launch the business they’ve always considered.

The Small Business Association is trying to provide some of the education and resources that women need to get their businesses off the ground. The department outlines some of what they have to offer and how you can take part here. We’re going to be publishing an interview with the SBA for our Small Business Month/MN Bosses coverage this month, so stay tuned.

Job Gains Stall For The Month Of August, Black Unemployment Holds Steady But Above Average

September 5th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Job seekers waiting in line for 750 construction positions available in NYC. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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

Numbers for the month of August show a gain of 142,000 jobs, a sharp decrease from the previous six months when 200,000 jobs were tallied each month. Revisions for previous month pushed the jobs figure up or down, but still above that 200,000 mark. Economists had estimated that August would reach 225,000 jobs added. A revision could push the number up, but it still wouldn’t reach the estimate.

The number of people out of work for six months fell to three million; 31 percent of all unemployed people are long-term jobless. And the underemployed — people who have stopped looking or who have settled for part-time work but would like full-time jobs — has fallen to 12 percent from 12.2 percent. Some say that could also be attributable, in part, to baby boomers retiring.

The unemployment rate fell from 6.2 percent to 6.1 percent.

For African Americans, the jobs situation is still more critical. That figure held steady at 11.4 percent, unchanged from last month when the rate jumped back up from 10.7 percent the previous month. Generation Opportunity puts the unemployment rate for people ages 18 to 29, including those who have stopped looking for work, at 15 percent. For African Americans, that figure goes up to 22.4 percent.

Across the board, an equally large problem is wage stasis. Wage growth for the month for all nonfarm workers went up six cents. And year-over-year, wages only went up 2.1 percent. Average hourly earnings are $24.53. Jobs are more plentiful — and better paying — in areas like technology, manufacturing and energy.

The uneven growth in the economy has spawned more low wage jobs, a lack of middle income jobs, a need for skills that a large segment of the population lacks, and high income growth for the biggest earners. While car sales have jumped up, for instance, home sales have not. And some experts are concerned about the anticipated increases in the interest rates, which would impact things like mortgages.

So there is still much work to do. In addition, the wage and skills gap that everyone is worried about is taking a toll that we should be on the look out for. If the majority aren’t making enough and don’t have the experience and training for the jobs of the future, the recovery isn’t being shared by everyone.

via The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.