The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued the September Employment Situation report on Oct. 22. This came 18 days after the scheduled Oct. 4 release because of the 15 day government shutdown. As expected, the September report portrays a stagnant economy, creating jobs barely at a pace commensurate with population growth and far from a rate that would reflect an economy on the road to recovery.
Nonfarm employment increased by all of 148,000 jobs, a smidge below the 150,000 or so jobs commonly believed are needed to keep pace with population growth. This rate was half of the 300,000 new jobs that should be created monthly in an economy working its way out of the doldrums. Unchanged was the number of Americans working part time who otherwise desire fulltime work. There are 7.9 million of these workers.
Dear President Obama:
Like many Americans I’m nauseated by the current John Boehner/Tea Party willingness to take the entire country hostage and directly harm the lives of millions of people affected by the government shut-down, in an effort to sabotage health care provision for millions of other people who are finally able to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and I applaud your refusal to “negotiate” with Boehner and the 30-40 Tea Party Republican Congressman hostage takers.
(Note to John Beohner: if you have become so attached to power that that you cannot risk your job for the good of the country you need to resign.)
But I have two additional action recommendations that I would like you to consider:
Once again the BLS monthly Employment Situation Report has given the lie to the idea, popular in Washington D.C. and Wall Street, that if we’re just patient and don’t do anything to upset the “jobs creators” (aka the 1%), they will come to our rescue and expand employment. The data make clear that they haven’t. The private sector continues to fail the one fundamental measure by which we should judge an economy: the ability to provide jobs – especially living wage jobs – for everyone willing and able to work.
We can begin with the most recent monthly data. The number of, officially, unemployed remains well over 11 million, among which 4.3 million have been unemployed for 6 months or more. Another 7.9 million people are working part time, want a full time job, but can’t find one.
The June unemployment situation, as depicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its July 5 report, looks like May redux: Unemployment rate stuck at 7.6%; number of persons unemployed stuck at 11.8 million; number of persons unemployed for at least 27 weeks stuck at about 4.3 million or 36.7% of all unemployed persons. Even the increase in the number of persons employed (195,000 vs. 175,000 in May) was far too small to force a change in the long term trajectory of job creation, which has averaged 182,000 per month over the last year.
This Lesser Depression has, indeed, been devastating, especially for the less educated, for African Americans, and for Latinos. After 4 full years of economic “recovery” the number of unemployed persons is still 5 million greater than it would be if the unemployment rate had dropped by now to its eve-of-Lesser Depression low of 4.4% (May, 2007.) And it should be noted that 4.4% unemployment is higher than its historic lows and probably does not represent “full employment.”
The labor market remained sluggish in May. Unemployment rose from 7.5% to 7.6%, while nonfarm payroll increased 175,000. Much of the job growth was concentrated in retail, food services and drinking places and temporary help. Manufacturing fell slightly.
The growth in employment is at about the same rate as has characterized the economy over the last year. This rate is simply not enough to make headway against the huge damage done by the financial panic and recession that started in late 2007. The key measure of labor market health, the employment to population ratio remains stuck at 58.6%. That ratio has been at this level since 2010. On the eve of the recession the employment to population ratio was over 63%. In the 2001 recession this measure never fell below 62%. The economy remains in deep trouble. We are treading water. Growth is barely covering population increases. The human cost of the recession continues. The simple logic of the numbers is that we have made no progress.