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U.S. unemployment UP in August, to 9.7%

It is a darn good thing that unemployment is a “trailing economic indicator” (unemployment can still be getting worse while other things are getting better)!

The bad news that was released earlier this month (September 4) about unemployment in August is that unemployment increased slightly from 9.4% in July to 9.7% in August.

Meanwhile, the Dow is near a one-year high, with Wall Street stretching out the recent rally, and the graph of the market since March lows is amazingly “up and to the right!”

Yes, unemployment lags as an indicator. The jobless rate topped 12% in 5 states (including California, with 12.2%). The “hardest hit” states include Michigan (with 15.2% unemployment), Nevada (13.2%), Rhode Island (12.8%), California (12.2%), and Oregon (12.2%). For California, Nevada, and Rhode Island, these unemployment rates were records. The job losses tended to be highest in the states with a concentration of manufacturing jobs or which were hardest hit by the housing bust. In August, 27 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) recorded month-over-month increases in unemployment, while 16 STATES POSTED A DECREASE in unemployment, and SEVEN STATES SHOWED NO CHANGE. (Sorry to “shout,” but if I could DANCE while holding the laptop, I would!) :-) The total number of jobs fell in 42 states and D.C., but EIGHT STATES SAW AN INCREASE.

American employers CUT 216,000 jobs in August, according to a Labor Department report. You have to remember that legal requirements force corporations to consider stockholders first and this results in a focus on short-term gains (or cutting losses). Also, as we saw with the “Financial Crisis,” management in a lot of businesses is greedy and “not so swift” intellectually. :-) Sorry folks, but you proved it yourselves.

The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, for August 2009, “the number of unemployed persons increased by 466,000 to 14.9 million, and the unemployment rate rose by 0.3% to 9.7%. The rate had been little changed in June and July….” “Since the recession began in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 7.4 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 4.8 percentage points.”

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.1 percent), whites (8.9 percent), and Hispanics (13.0 percent) rose in August. The jobless rates for adult women (7.6 percent), teenagers (25.5 percent), and blacks (15.1 percent) were little changed over the month. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted.”

“In August, the number of persons working part time for economic reasons was little changed at 9.1 million. These individuals indicated that they were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because  they were unable to find a full-time job. The number of such workers rose sharply in the fall and winter but has been little changed since March.”

Some 2.3million people were “marginally attached to the labor force,” up 630,000 from a year earlier, not seasonally adjusted. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks before the survey. Among these, the number of “discouraged workers” in August (758,000), who believe that no jobs are available for them, HAS NEARLY DOUBLED <emphasis mine> over the last 12 months.

The report has this to say about employment in various types of jobs:

“In August, construction employment declined by 65,000, in line with the trend since May. Monthly losses had averaged 117,000 over the 6 months ending in April. Employment in the construction industry has contracted by 1.4 million since the onset of the recession. Starting in early 2009, the larger share of monthly job losses shifted from the residential to the nonresidential and heavy construction components. In mining, employment declined by 9,000 over the month.”

“In August, manufacturing employment continued to trend downward, with a decline of 63,000. The pace of job loss has slowed throughout manufacturing in recent months. Motor vehicles and parts lost 15,000 jobs in August, partly offsetting a 31,000 employment increase in July.”

“Financial activities shed 28,000 jobs in August, with declines spread throughout the industry. Job loss in financial activities has slowed since the beginning of the year. Employment in the industry has de-clined by 537,000 since the start of the recession.”

“Wholesale trade employment fell by 17,000 in August. Employment in information continued to trend down over the month.”

“Employment in the retail trade industry was little changed in August. Employment also was little changed in professional and business services over the month. From May through August, monthly employment declines in the sector averaged 46,000, compared with 138,000 per month from November through April. Job loss in its temporary help services component has slowed markedly over the last 4 months.”

“Employment was little changed in August both in transportation and warehousing, and in leisure and hospitality.”

“Employment in health care continued to rise in August (28,000), with gains in ambulatory care and in nursing and residential care. Employment in hospitals was little changed in August; job growth in the industry slowed in early 2009 and employment has been flat since May. Health care has added 544,000 jobs since the start of the recession.”

Sorry about the heavy quoting and “data richness” of the last section. There are a lot of people out of work, and America will not be well again until they are re-employed. After they ARE re-employed, American businesses will likely find that there are not enough workers (given the demographics) to support those of us “Baby Boomers” who would like to retire someday. I would like the more “forward-looking” businesses to start thinking about that NOW, since my conversations with some of the unemployed indicate that the more “backward-looking” :-) (yes, they stumble into a lot of things) businesses are still pursuing practices of age discrimination as though they have an unlimited supply of workers ahead (they DON’T).

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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