Unemployment Rate Hits 5-year High
September 5, 2008, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Economics | Tags: , ,

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the unemployment rate rose from 5.7 to 6.1 percent in the month of August. The loss of more than 84,000 non-farm payroll jobs last month was higher than economists had anticipated. So far this year, some 605,000 jobs have been lost, and the financial crisis, fueled by the mortgage crisis has forced dramatic changes in the labor market. The higher price of gasoline and the attendant costs that have resulted throughout the supply chain have also put upward pressure on the inflation rate.  In response to the new numbers, House Speaker Nancy Polosi’s office released a statement chastising the Bush administration for their failure to create more jobs:

The economic policies of President Bush and the Republicans have delivered another blow to American families, as 84,000 more workers lost their jobs last month alone. Today, more than 9 million Americans are without work and millions more are struggling with the high cost of gas, health care and groceries, yet John McCain told Americans who are out of work or who just lost their jobs that another four years of the same failed Bush economic policies are the right solution for them and for America.

In terms of industry, construction and retail took the biggest hit:

Construction job losses in July and August averaged 14,000, compared with an average monthly loss of 45,000 during the first half of 2008. In August, residential specialty trade contractors lost 14,000 jobs; since a peak in
February 2006, employment in the industry has declined by 388,000.

Employment in both wholesale and retail trade continued to trend down over the month. Within retail trade, motor vehicle and parts dealers shed 14,000 jobs. Since reaching a recent peak in April 2007, employment in motor vehicle and parts dealers has fallen by 60,000.

However, things are even worse than they appear because the 6.1% figure is much lower than the real unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics rate does not account for marginally attached and discouraged workers.

About 1.6 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attached to the labor force in August, an increase of 275,000 over the past 12 months. These individuals 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. Among the marginally attached, there were 381,000 discouraged workers in August, little changed from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work specifically because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

The news is particularly devastating to new college graduates, who find themselves in heaps of debt and unable to find work. Over at The Learning Curve, one new graduate writes:

I was not surprised to see this headline in the newspaper today. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a job, and not just for myself. I know others who are unemployed and have been having just as much trouble finding a job as I.

Today is my last day at my current temp assignment. I have nothing scheduled for Monday so I am going to be a food runner at a friends restaurant-a far cry from everything I have been trying to accomplish for the last 6 years.

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3 Comments so far
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