Sunday, May 6, 2012
The Department of Labor recently released its April unemployment data. There was job growth of 115,000 and the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.1%, but this wasn't as good as many had expected. However, the previous months' numbers were revised upward.
One interesting debate surrounding the unemployment rate, which will only heat up as the presidential race gets closer, is the labor force participation rate. I never thought that would be a hot political topic, but it's a number that I've mentioned frequently with the unemployment data releases. The participation rate is relatively low, which contributes to keeping the unemployment rate low. The question is whether this is the result of discouraged workers dropping out of the labor market or as consequence of baby boomers retiring. The answer includes both, but the degree of impact is unclear. Ibe theory is that retirements are a major piece of the participation rate, which means that we may not see the uptick in the unemployment rate that some have predicted when discouraged workers return to a healthier job market. The Washington Post's Wonkblog has done a nice job following this issue.
Friday, March 9, 2012
The Department of Labor released its February unemployment data today. The short version: the unemployment rate is unchanged at 8.3%, but there were an additional 227,000 jobs this past month. The disparity between the two is due in large part to more people re-entering the workforce as jobs become more available. Not great for the unemployment number, but a good sign for the economy. Other good signs from the report: the Dec. and Jan. job gains were revised up by 61,000; government employment declined by only 6,000 (the previous month was 22,000); hourly wages increased some; and there was a big increase in temp jobs, which often lead the way for other job gains. Still a ways to go, but things still going in the right direction.
Friday, January 6, 2012
The Department of Labor released the December employment report today. I don't think I've written this for several years, but it looks pretty good. The headline is the unemployment rate dropping to 8.5%, from a revised 8.7% the previous month. There was 200,000 jobs added (220,00 in the private-secotr offsetting public job losses). Other measures showed improvement. The underemployment rate, while still a high 15.1% is still down. Also, wages and hours worked are up--all goods signs for the future. Finally, lest you think this is all Christmas sales, growth was seen in manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, retail,and even construction.
Friday, December 2, 2011
The Department of Labor was released its November unemployment figures. The good news is that the unemployment rate is down to 8.6%, from 9.0%. Moreover, last month's numbers, like the previous few months have been revised to show increased job growth (see this for a nice chart on the recent revisions). The bad news is that part of the story is that fewer people are looking for work and, therefore, are not counted as unemployed. Nevertheless, 120,000 jobs were added last month; not great, but not bad either and better than expectations. Perhaps more importantly, the trend seems to be moving positively, although we'll have to wait and see if that's true.
Friday, November 4, 2011
The Daprtment of Labor released its October employment report today, which seems to continue a pattern of mediocre jobs reports. The net gain in jobs was 80,000 and the unemployment rate went down 0.1 percent to 9%. Thisis basically whats needed to keep up with population gains, so is comparable to treading water (which is obviously better than drowning). On the bright side, revisions of the last few reports show substantial increases in the number of new jobs, so perhaps things are a bit better than they seem.
Among the other figures released is that the average time of unemployment is 39.4 weeks (down a little from last month's record 40.5 weeks), all government jobs have lost a net of 323,000 positions over the last year, hourly earnings rose by 0.3% (5 cents) over last month, and the average number of hours worked per week remained steady at 34.3 hours.
Friday, October 7, 2011
The Department of Labor released its September employment figures today. The numbers were better than expected, but still not that strong. There were 103,000 additional jobs during the month, with the unemployment rate staying at 9.1% (August was also revised up from no job growth to 57,000 more jobs). Part of the uptick was the return of Verizon strikers, which helped push private sector employment up by 137,000 jobs; the public sector lost 35,000 jobs, most of which in education. Temporary employment also improves, with 19,400 more jobs and average hours worked also rose a bit.
On a related note, check out this interestic graphic that shows a geographical development of unemployment during this recession. Not for the faint of heart.
Hat Tip: Michael Duff
Friday, September 2, 2011
The Department of Labor released its August employment data today, and it wasn't pretty. There were no net job gains last months--a far cry from the 150,000 jobs needed every month to keep up with the expansion of the labor market--and the unemployment rate remained at 9.1%. The large Verizon strike (45,000 workers) may have impacted the numbers somewhat, but it was still disappointing. Local public employment was responsible for 20,000 jobs loss (state employment went up 5,000) and hiring in manufacturing and health care, which had been good, slowed some. Finally, the labor participation rate went down .01 percent, to 58.5 percent.
Friday, August 5, 2011
The Department of Labor released its July employment figures today. The short version is that they're better than expected, but still far from stellar. The number of jobs increased by 117,000 last month and the unemployment rate decreased slightly to 9.1%, from 9.2% the previous month. The figure was even better in the private sector, which added 157,000 jobs (the public sector is still seeing job cuts). One notably bad figure is the 58.2 labor participation rate, which is the lowest in almost three decades. At the least, the report avoided fanning the stock market panic of yesterday, but it's not turning anything around either.
Friday, July 8, 2011
The Department of Labor released its June employment data today. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2% from 9.1%. The private sector actually added jobs, although a less-than-expected 57,000. Many of those were offset by a loss of 39,000 government jobs. In short, the labor market still looks pretty stagnant.
Friday, June 3, 2011
The DOL has released its unemployment report for May and it's pretty tepid. Only 54,000 jobs were added, far less than the 200,000+ additional jobs we've seen the last several months. The unemployment rate went up to 9.1%, from last month's 9.0%. Some of the fall off may be because of things such as the Japanese tsunami and higher oil prices, but it's still not good news for the recovery.
Friday, April 1, 2011
The Department of Labor's March employment figures are now in. The highlights include 216,000 jobs added last month, with the unemployment rate down to 8.8% (from 8.9% the previous month). Overall, this slightly beat expectations and appears to be viewed as good, but not great, news. In does, however, represent another month of growing private-sector employment (now at 13 months in a row), albeit relatively modest growth. But, there are still a lot of long-term unemployed, low labor participation rate, and unchanged number of hours worked. On the other hand, unemployment claims have been dropping. In short, things are looking a bit better and continues to give hope for a future recovery, but we're still not there yet.
Friday, March 4, 2011
The Department of Labor has just released its employment report for February and the numbers are looking pretty good (relatively speaking, at least). Employment increased by 192,000 last month, bringing the unemployment rate down a bit to 8.9%. Many of the new jobs came from the manufacturing, construction, and service industries. Government continued to lose jobs.
Perhaps the best part of this report is the 192,000 figure. That's a bit more jobs than most economists say is needed to keep up with a rising number of working-age people in the country. That is, this report, and hopefully the ones after, may be turning the corner to a situation when we're not just treading water, but actually getting back some of the huge job losses we saw in the recession.
Friday, February 4, 2011
The Department of Labor has released the January employment data. However, because of bad weather and government job losses, the reliability of these numbers--at least as a sign of any broader trends--is minimal. Among the findings was an increase of only 36,000 jobs the past month. This, in addition to populations readjustments and fewer people braving the cold to look for work, resulted in a decline of the unemployment rate to 9% from the previous month's 9.4%.
Of course, if the weather affected things a lot in January, February may be worse . . . .
Friday, January 21, 2011
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released its 2010 figures for union coverage. Overall union density went down from 12.3% to 11.9%; in the private sector, union density went down from 7.2% to 6.9%, and in the public sector, it went from 37.4% to 36.2%. Among the other highlights:
--The union membership rate for public sector workers (36.2 percent) was
substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9 percent).
--Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest
unionization rate at 37.1 percent.
--Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian,
or Hispanic workers.
--Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate (24.2 percent)
and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.2 percent).
For more detailed compilations of the 2010 union membership figures, as well as historical data, you can see unionstats.com.
Friday, December 3, 2010
The Department of Labor has released its November employment data and they are disappointing. Contrary to predictions of large job gains (or about 150,000), there were only a net of 39,000 jobs added. Moreover, the unemployment rate went up .2 points to 9.8%. The private sector added 50,000 new jobs (many of which were temporary), while the public sector lost 11,000. We'll see if December provides any better news.
Friday, November 5, 2010
The Department of Labor has released its October employment data. As has often been the case lately, it's a mixed bag. On the good side, there were 151,000 new jobs last month, more than the expected 60,000 new jobs. This represents an addition of 159,000 private sector jobs and a cut of 8,000 government jobs (primarily the final throes of the Census effect). Pay and the number of hours worked inched up, which is a good sign. However, the unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.6%--largely because more people are returning to the labor force to look for jobs. In other words, were still in the midst of a long slog that is going in the right direction, but taking its own sweet time.
Friday, July 2, 2010
The Department of Labor released its June unemployment data today. As has been the case lately, the numbers are still pretty week. There were 83,000 private-sector jobs added last month--well below what's necessary to get employment back to where it should be. Adding to the sour mood is that because of the loss of many temporary Census jobs, the overall number of jobs declined. Yet, the unemployment rate also went down to 9.5% from 9.7% in May. This was largely the result of fewer people looking for jobs. Also, the median time on unemployment went up--a statistic that doesn't seem to be affecting the jobs bill's chances in Congress right now.
There are some sliver of good news, however. The increase in private-sector jobs is actually double of May's figures (and a lot better than the massive losses earlier in the year). Whether that's a sign of more to come is anybody's guess.
Friday, June 4, 2010
The Department of Labor has released its employment data for May and, as has become the norm the last few months, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the unemployment rate decreased to 9.7% in May, from 9.9% in the previous month. Moreover, the underemployment rate also went down to 16.6% from 17.1% in the previous month. These numbers are largely the result of 431,000 new jobs. However, the bad news: most of those jobs (411,000 of them) were temporary ones with the Census.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
As we've all heard lots about, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will, among other things, require individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty to the government if they do not. And this is what is being challenged in the lawsuit by state officials in Florida, thought to have the most traction of any of the proposed suits. Earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service issued this report, Requiring Individuals to Obtain Health Insurance: A Constitutional Analysis. The report analyzes likely arguments against the mandate brought under the Fifth and Tenth Amendments and also explores the sufficiency under the First Amendment of exceptions for certain religious groups.
The report analyzes whether Congress is empowered to impose this requirement through its taxing power and the power to regulate interstate commerce, and finds them somewhat difficult issues. Also potentially difficult, although not clearly a problem, is the religious exemption for some. Easier to reject, according to the report, would be challenges under the Fifth and Tenth Amendments. The report's analysis is thorough and very interesting. It's a good read for anyone concerned about this aspect of the new legislation.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Department of Labor released its April employment numbers and they
were generally better than expected. Approximately 290,000 jobs were
added--much more than we've seen in years and, after some upward
adjustments for previous months, this represents the fourth straight
month of job growth. The unemployment rate actually went up 0.2% to
9.9%, but this actually represented some perceived strength in the job
market as part of that increase was due to a large number of people who
had dropped out of the job market searching for jobs once again.