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Unemployment for November 2011: U.S. and California

In the United States, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6% in November and nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on December 2. In October, the unemployment rate was 9.0%, as I blogged last month. There was a continued upward trend in retail trade, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care, and a continued downward trend in government employment.

From April through October 2011, the unemployment rate nationally held in a narrow range from 9.0% to 9.2%. The number of unemployed people was down by 594,000 in November, to 13.3 million. The total labor force (unemployed + employed) was down by a little more than half that much.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men fell by 0.5 percentage point to 8.3 percent in November. The jobless rate for whites (7.6 percent) also declined, while the rates for adult women (7.8 percent), teenagers (23.7 percent), blacks (15.5 percent), and Hispanics (11.4 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

In November, the number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or longer) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted for 43% of the unemployed. The number of people who lost jobs and those who completed temporary jobs declined by 432,000 to 7.6 million in November. The employment-population ratio changed little, at 58.5%.

Persons who were employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes called “involuntary part-time workers”) declined by 378,000 over November, to 8.5 million. These folks were working part time because their hours had been reduced or because they could not find a full-time job.

There were 2.6 million people (data not seasonally adjusted) who were “marginally attached to the workforce” in November, about the same as a year before! These folks were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. In the marginally attached group were 1.1 million discouraged workers, who are not looking for work because they believe that not jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

The private sector added 140,000 jobs in November, with a rise in employment in a number of service industries.

Employment in retail trade rose by 50,000 in November, with much of the increase occurring in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+27,000) and in electronics and appliance stores (+5,000). Since reaching an employment trough in December 2009, retailers have added an average of 14,000 jobs per month.

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in November (+22,000). Within the industry, food services and drinking places added 33,000 jobs. This gain more than offset a loss of 12,000 jobs in the accommodation industry. In the last 12 months, leisure and hospitality added 253,000 jobs, largely driven by employment increases in food services and drinking places.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in November (+33,000). Modest job gains continued in temporary help services.

Health care employment continued to rise in November (+17,000). Within the industry,  hospitals added 9,000 jobs. Over the past 12 months, health care has added an average of 27,000 jobs per month.

Manufacturing employment changed little over the month and has remained essentially unchanged since July. In November, fabricated metal products added 8,000 jobs, while electronic instruments lost 2,000 jobs.

Construction employment showed little movement in November. Employment in the industry has shown little change, on net, since early 2010.

Government employment continued to trend down in November, with a decline in the U.S. Postal Service (-5,000). Employment in both state government and local government has been trending down since the second half of 2008.

Average workweeks, overtime, and hourly earnings were given but changed little. Employment statistics for earlier months were revised. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised from +158,000 to +210,000, and the change for October was revised from +80,000 to +100,000.

California’s unemployment rate decreased in November to 11.3%, down from 11.7% in October, as reported by the Employment Development Department (EDD) on December 16. Nonfarm payroll jobs increased by 6,600 (but we’ll TAKE it!) during November, for a total gain of 211,400 since the beginning of 2011. In November of 2010, California’s unemployment rate was 12.5%. The number of people unemployed in California was 2,058,000, which was down by 64,000 over the month, and down by 212,000 compared with November of last year.

Seasonally adjusted detailed payroll employment (wage and salary jobs) totaled 14,170,100 in November, a net gain of 6,600 jobs since the October survey. This followed a gain of 37,600 jobs (as revised) in October.

Eight categories (mining and logging; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government) added jobs over the month, gaining 34,800 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities posted the largest increase over the month, adding 18,000 jobs.

Three categories (construction; manufacturing; and professional and business services) reported job declines over the month, down 28,200 jobs. Professional and business services posted the largest decrease over the month, down 13,200 jobs.

In a year-over-year comparison (November 2010 to November 2011), nonfarm payroll employment in California increased by 233,100 jobs (up 1.7 percent).

Ten categories (mining and logging; construction; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and government) posted job gains over the year, adding 233,200 jobs. Professional and business services posted the largest gain on a numerical basis, adding 53,700 jobs (up 2.6 percent). Information posted the largest gain on a percentage basis, up by 4.1 percent (an increase of 18,000 jobs).

One category, manufacturing, posted job declines over the year, down 100 jobs (a 0.0 decrease).

Of California’s counties, 13 had unemployment rates of 15.0% or greater, with Imperial County again leading the pack at 27.2% unemployment.

Paul Osterman, a professor at the MIT School of Management and co-author, with the late Beth Shulman of Good Jobs America: Making Work Better for Everyone wrote a special article for CNN that should be a “must-read,” entitled “To save middle class, create good jobs.” Although I believe (and his facts support me) that there no longer IS a “middle class” in America, Osterman provides facts and suggestions, rather than the all-too-common political rhetoric, about the widening gap between the overwhelming majority (the “99%”) of lower-class Americans and the rich upper class of the 1%.

-Bill at

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