All Articles Tagged "unemployment rate"

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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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

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.

Unemployment Rate Down To 7.3 Percent, 169K Jobs Added In August

September 6th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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The number of people dropping out of the labor force was enough to drive the unemployment rate down from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent for the month of August. The New York Times reports that the percentage of adults who are members of the workforce is at its lowest point since 1978, a time when many fewer women were working. “If the economy were to fill the jobs gap left by the recession within the next four years, around 300,000 jobs a month would need to be created, according to the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution,” the Times writes. In fact, the numbers for June and July weren’t quite as good as we thought either.

So with that, the addition of 169,000 jobs for the month is good, but definitely not great. Retail, food, and healthcare were the main drivers, continuing a trend. But that trend also includes more part-time workers staffed in low-wage jobs, like those available at fast-food restaurants. That trend has become pronounced enough that some have started to question whether the overwhelming number of people working less than full-time positions is “new normal.”

“Of nearly 1 million U.S. jobs created this year, 80% — four of every five — were part time and most had meager or no benefits,” reports USA Today

“Involuntary part-time workers — those who are seeking full-time work or holding multiple jobs — remain between 19% and 20% of the nation’s workforce, up from 17% in 2007,” the article continues. On the positive side, many workers in their 30s and 40s appreciate the flexibility that part-time work affords. Unfortunately, there are a lot of tangible things, like food, that you can’t afford when you’re not making enough money.

There are 7.9 million Americans looking for full-time work, which drives the number of people who are underemployed up to 13.7 percent. At the same time, the Federal Reserve is considering whether it’s time to slow its stimulus programs. Politico says the pending decision has already sent interest rates for mortgages and other goods up, leaving some to argue that the economy is still too weak to let up on stimulus efforts.

The unemployment rate for African Americans ticked back up to 13 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 12.6 percent last month. The government agency also reports a .1 hour increase in the average workweek to 34.5 hours, and an increase of five cents in hourly wages for all private non-farm employees, to $24.05.

Drama, Theater Grads Find More Jobs Than Their Tech Counterparts

August 4th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Drama and theater majors are commonly greeted with blank stares and told: “You can’t do anything with that in this economy.” Now, artsy students finally have ammo to shoot down these cynical claims. Recent college graduates with art degrees are finding more jobs than those with technology degrees, reports USA Today.

According to a new Georgetown University study, recent grads with a degree in information systems have an unemployment rate of nearly 15 percent while their theater-loving counterparts have a joblessness rate of only 6.4 percent.

New tech degree-holders do not become “computer scientists or programmers or people who understand the innards of computers,” Carnevale, director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce said. “They’re people who use computer information at their job,” like bank workers who sit at the customer service desk.

Undergrad technology programs do not provide sufficient instruction for recent college graduates and they’re just not ready for the real world; “[They] don’t teach students all the skills needed to succeed in the health care IT world, and many employers are unwilling to take a chance on an inexperienced job candidate,” added USA Today.

Sheri Stoltenberg, CEO of a health care consulting firm, said that most firms don’t want to invest time and money on new graduates. Understandably, most employers prefer candidates with practical experience in technology.

Conversely, jobs in the drama and theater field remain unaffected by the slumping economic climate. Because there are fewer college students who pursue artsy degrees, employment is easier to come by.

Although the joblessness rate is lower, the wages — of course — are very low. Drama majors must settle for a starting salary of $25,000. College graduates with a technology degree hit the jackpot with a starting salary of $40,000.

This study collected 2010 and 2011 data from the U.S. Census Beaurau’s American Community survey on college graduates between 22 and 26 years old with a bachelor’s degree.


Unemployment Rate Is 7.4 Percent, Fewer Jobs Than Expected Created In July

August 2nd, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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The US added 162,000 jobs during the month of July, mostly in retail, food services, financial activities, and wholesale trade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of unemployed Americans dropped to 11.5 million and the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent. The unemployment rate for African Americans also fell to 12.6 percent. However, rates for other groups such as Hispanics (9.4 percent) and teenagers (23.7 percent) haven’t changed. Long-term unemployed Americans — those out of work for 27 weeks or more — make up 37 percent of the unemployed, totaling 4.2 million. That’s 921,000 fewer than last year. And 37,000 dropped out of the workforce all together last month.

Retail added the most jobs — 47,000 — in the last month. Food service and restaurants added 38,000. These are typically low-paying jobs, so there are questions about how much benefit this is for workers and the country as a whole as high rates of poverty and subsistence-level living continue. Food service workers in particular protested this week to raise the pay on these jobs to $15 per hour, what they consider a living wage. Some protesters want restaurants like McDonald’s to raise pay. Some want to unionize. And still others want to press government on the city and/or federal level to raise the minimum wage.

The New York Times reports on the response from the food industry:

Restaurant industry officials say the strikers’ demand for $15 an hour is ludicrous because it amounts to more than twice the federal minimum wage. (The median pay for fast-food workers nationwide is $9.05 an hour.) Industry officials say a $15 wage might drive many restaurants out of business and cause restaurant owners to hire fewer workers and replace some with automation — perhaps by using more computerized gadgets where customers punch in the orders themselves.

Protesters interviewed in that same story talk about being on food stamps and reducing poverty levels through their efforts.

The average hourly wage for workers (excluding private nonfarm workers) was down two cents to $23.98 per hour. Year-over-year, that’s up 44 cents. The number of job gains for May and June were also revised downward.

“We’re continuing to see moderate but unspectacular job growth in the U.S. and that’s consistent with an economy that’s growing at a modest rate,” Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets told Forbes

“I don’t think it’s time to press the panic button,” he added. “”We still think the economy will pick up in the second half of the year as some of the fiscal headwinds abate.”

June Report: Black Women Were The Only Group With An Increase In The Unemployment Rate

July 15th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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While other minority women, such as Latinas and Asians, have seen their unemployment rates drop to 8.6 percent and 4.2 percent respectively, the jobless rate for African-American women has increased, says. The June job report shows that 12 percent is the current unemployment rate for Black women, according to The National Women’s Law Center. The jobless rate for White women is at six percent.

In 2007, before the recession, the unemployment rate for African-American women stood at 7.1 percent, according to ThinkProgress. In June 2009, 11.2 percent of Black women were jobless. Unfortunately, the June job report shows that Black women are the only subgroup of women who have failed to show a decline in unemployment.

For Black men, although their unemployment rate dipped slightly from 13.5 percent in May to 13 percent in June, that figure is still high. White men have an unemployment rate of only 6.2, adds Green County Democrat.

“More than 2.5 million Blacks are unemployed, according to the Department’s latest jobs report,” says Green County Democrat “The 13.7 Black unemployment rate is higher now than when President Obama took oath in office back in January 2009.”

In the clip “Black Woman Pretends to Be White, Job Offers Skyrocket,” Yolanda Spivey, an African-American woman, applied for over 300 jobs last year in the insurance industry. Spivey had over 10 years of experience in the field and had not received one call.

Even when she went back to college and completed her degree, she still did not receive any responses. It was not until she changed her race from “Black” to “White” on her application and changed her name to “Bianca White”did she start getting attention from employers. At the end of her week-long experiment, 24 employers reviewed Bianca’s resume while only 10 looked at Yolanda’s.

Julianne Malveaux, an economist and former president of Bennett College for Women, says that although it may seem like the high unemployment rate is disproportionately targeting blacks, she explains that the populations that are most affected are the urban-living Black men.

“One thing the president can do is accelerate, deepen, and strengthen the enforcement of anti-discrimination policies” Bernard Anderson told Green County Democrat, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, “That’s one thing the president can do and from all the evidence, the Obama administration has been asleep at the switch.”

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