The markets – Dow is up more than 150 points – and the media – “economy set to add most jobs since 2005” – liked today’s jobs report: 203,000 jobs created in November 2013. And, of course, we should be glad over 200,000 people had jobs in November who didn’t have them in October. But does this mean that the economy is up and running for us? Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to take three dates: Nov 2007, the last month before what has been labeled the “great recession,” June 2009, the official end of the “great recession”, and today and look at the job numbers. The table below provides that comparison (all numbers in 000s, population and labor force are people 16 and over, seasonally adjusted).
Though payroll jobs (establishment survey) increased by 204,000 in October, overall employment (household survey) declined by 735,000, indicating that the U.S. employment situation remains dismal. More telling, long-term employment (of 27 weeks or more) remains at 4.1 million, approximately double the level of prior recessions. The Official Unemployment rate also remained essentially unchanged, increasing slightly from 7.2% to 7.3%. The more accurate U-6 unemployment rate which takes into account discouraged workers and workers working part-time who would like full-time work also rose from 13.6% to 13.8% in October.
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.