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