Thursday, July 3, 2008

Job situation continues to deteriorate

The June 2008 employment figures are out, and the news isn't good.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate held steady last month at 5.5 percent. That's nearly a full percentage point higher than the rate last June and up half a percentage point since the start of the year.

The bad news, however, comes in the numbers behind this number. The number of employed people and the number of jobs (these are measured in separate surveys) each fell, while the number of people who were unemployed (out of work but looking for a job) rose.

How then did the unemployment rate stay steady? The number of people who indicate that they "in the labor force" (people either working or looking for work) fell. The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of people looking for work by the number of people in the labor force. The labor force number fell just enough to keep the measured unemployment rate steady.

Jobs disappearing and people leaving the labor force are not good economic signs. While we may yet dodge a full-blown economic recession, it is clear that we are well into an employment recession.