I’m not sure where the Obama administration is on jobs. I’m not feeling the push to get more jobs legislation through Congress. I really don’t care if Congress can stomach any more jobs bills. It is clear that America needs more jobs. Sitting back and chillin’ ain’t an option.
Even though the unemployment rate remained flat at 9.6 percent in September, the labor market would now need to add a total of about 11.5 million jobs to restore the pre-recession rate, according to analysis from Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute.
The economy lost about 95,000 jobs last month, including temporary Census workers. Not including Census positions, roughly 18,000 jobs were lost, as the private sector addition of 64,000 jobs couldn’t offset the 83,000 jobs cut by state and local governments, whose unusually severe deficits have lead analyst Meredith Whitney to predict that the next major financial crisis will come from municipal debt defaults. The state and local cuts included 58,000 teaching jobs.
The true numbers could be even worse. As HuffPost’s Shahien Nasiripour notes, the reported numbers of jobs lost in July and August were revised up after the initial reports.
According to Shierholz’s analysis, the economy is down about 8.1 million jobs from where it was when the recession began, in December 2007. Considering population growth, the economy should have added 3.4 million jobs during the recession, Shierholz notes. To fully recover, the country would need to add 11.5 million jobs.
The labor force increased by 48,000 in September, leaving the labor force participation rate unchanged at 64.7%. The labor force participation rate is still far below its prerecession level of 66.0% in December 2007, so the pool of “missing workers,” that is, workers who dropped out of (or didn’t enter) the labor force during the downturn, remains large. We can estimate its size in the following way. The labor force should have increased by around 3.8 million workers from December 2007 to September 2010 given working-age population growth over this period, but instead it grew by 289,000. This means that the pool of missing workers now numbers around 3.5 million. None of these workers are currently reflected in the official unemployment count, but as they enter or re-enter the labor force in search of work, this will contribute to keeping the unemployment rate high.
The share of unemployed workers who have been unemployed for over six months dropped from 42% to 41.7% in September. This improvement likely reflects workers dropping out of the labor force after exhausting unemployment insurance benefits. Despite this, the long-term unemployed share remains the seventh-highest on record, and there are still 6.1 million workers who have been unemployed for longer than six months. These dramatic figures are unsurprising given that there are still 4.6 unemployed workers per available job. The median, or typical, unemployment spell rose from 19.9 to 20.4 weeks, and the average unemployment spell dropped from 33.6 to 33.3 weeks.
All of the gains in private-sector jobs were in service-providing industries—service-producing industries added 86,000 jobs while goods-producing industries lost 22,000 jobs. Restaurants and bars added 33,900 jobs, one real bright spot. Health care added 23,900 jobs, on par with what it added in the prior three months. Temporary help services added 16,900, close to what it added in August. Retail trade added 5,700 in September, an improvement over its performance in the last four months, in which it averaged a loss of 3,200.
Construction lost 21,000 jobs, after adding an average of 7,000 jobs a month over the prior three months. Manufacturing lost 6,000 jobs in September, after adding an average of 18,000 a month for the first eight months of the year. September’s loss was all in non-durable goods.
In the public sector, aside from changes in temporary Census jobs, the shedding of jobs at the state and local level remains an ongoing drag on employment growth. In September, state and local governments shed 83,000 jobs (-7,000 state, -76,000 local). The pain of the state and local budget problems are clear in these numbers: of the 83,000 state and local jobs lost, 58,000 were in education, as teachers and other education workers were not called back for the new school year. Since their peak in September 2008, state and local governments have shed 410,000 jobs (-57,000 state, -353,000 local). (more…)