Friday, September 04, 2009
The Labor Department reported that the August U.S. unemployment rate reached its highest level in more than 26 years and nonfarm payrolls posted their smallest decline in a year.
The nation's jobless rate jumped from 9.4 percent to 9.7 percent last month, the highest rate since June 1983 but still more than a full percentage point short of the post-World War II high of 10.8 percent reached in late-1982, as employers remain cautious about hiring, unsure as to the strength of the economic recovery.
The U-6 measure of "under-employment" - including workers who have given up looking for a job and those who have settled for part-time work instead of full-time - rose from 16.3 percent to 16.8 percent.
Nonfarm payrolls declined by 216,000 in August following declines of 463,000 in June and 276,000 in July, these figures revised downward from 443,000 and 247,000, respectively. This follows a general trend in recent months of upward revisions to prior data, a sign that, perhaps, the improvement in labor market conditions is stalling.
The latest decline brings total job losses to 6.9 million since the current recession began in December 2007, making this the worst post-World War II recession in terms of job losses, and the total number of unemployed now stands at 14.9 million.
By category, job losses were widespread, the construction and manufacturing industry losing 65,000 and 63,000 jobs, respectively. Education and healthcare services was the only category with net job gains, up 52,000 from the month before.
Even the government pared back in August, total net job losses of 18,000 being reported across all levels of public service, paced by a decline of 12,300 in state and local education and the elimination of some 8,500 U.S. Postal Service positions.
The birth-death model added 118,000 jobs to the unadjusted nonfarm payrolls total last month. For the year, this estimated measure of new job creation has contributed a stunning +673,000 to the unadjusted nonfarm payrolls total of -4.9 million.