Friday, September 4, 2009
The Department of Labor has just released the August unemployment figures which, while still bad, is showing some early signs of life--just barely. There were 216,000 job losses in August, pushing the unemployment rate back up to 9.7% (after a wave of people stopped looking for work in July, dropping the rate to 9.4%). According to the New York Times:
Economists had expected 230,000 job losses for the month, and believed the unemployment rate would hit 9.5 percent. The government also revised monthly job losses for July higher, saying the economy had shed 276,000 jobs compared with the 247,000 that had originally been reported. The June number was revised to 463,000 job losses from 443,000. . . .
The slower pace of job losses suggested that the worst recession since the 1930s was losing steam, but the figures offered few hints that employers who had slashed their payrolls to conserve money were ready to hire again. Economists say employers must create 300,000 to 400,000 jobs a month to bring unemployment rates back to pre-recession levels — a difficult hurdle after such a prolonged downturn. . . .
Average earnings scarcely budged, illustrating the effect of pay freezes and employee furloughs. And record numbers of workers are spending six months or more without a job. . . . But the loss of 216,000 jobs in August, while grim by normal standards, underscored how far the economy had come from its worst days, when an average of 691,000 jobs were lost each month in the first quarter. Economists credited the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus plan and other rescue efforts by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve with stabilizing the economy and slowing job losses.