Lorie Byrd asks, Remember When Nancy Pelosi Asked “Where are the jobs, Mr. President?”. Pelosi asked in 2003. Bush gave a resounding response by mid-2004:
The shift in political rhetoric from the “jobless recovery” lament of the Democrats to “nearly a million jobs in 100 days” of the Bush administration appears to have reached consumers, whose confidence levels hit the highest level in two years in June, according to a Conference Board report this week.
As the nation’s payrolls declined by 263,000 jobs in September, the number of unemployed people topped 15 million, the U.S. Labor Department reported today.
The unemployment rate, now at 9.8 percent, has doubled since the start of the recession, in December 2007.
“The labor market is still going backward,” said economist Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Advisors Inc. in Bucks County. “Job losses remain high and the unemployment rate keeps rising.”
Every single major sector of business showed continued declines, with the exception of education and health services, which added a mere 3,000 jobs. The information sector, which includes telecommunications and moviemaking, stayed flat.
If there’s any stimulus money going into infrastructure and green construction, it’s not evident from the numbers, because construction lost 64,000 jobs – more than the perennial loser, manufacturing. Even heavy and civil engineering construction, the group that would be building roads and bridges, saw a decline of 11,900 jobs.
In the past, government hiring had managed to somewhat offset losses in the private sector, but government jobs declined by 53,000, with the biggest number of cuts on the local and state levels. Even the U.S. Postal Service, which is included in the public-sector job statistics, dropped 5,300 jobs.
“The major surprise came from the public sector, where every level of government cut back,” Naroff said. “The budget crises at the state and local levels have caused an awful lot of belt tightening.”
More than 7.2 million jobs have been eliminated since the recession began in December 2007.
Hourly earnings rose by a penny last month, to $18.67, while weekly wages fell $1.54 to $616.11, according to the government data.
The average hourly work week fell back to a record low of 33 in September. That figure is important because economists are looking for companies to add more hours for current workers before they hire new ones.
With losses in so many sectors, the toll on the jobless is increasing. Adding in the number of people who are forced to work part time, plus those who are too discouraged to look for work, the unemployment rate is now 17 percent.
More than a third of the unemployed, 5.4 million, have been out of work for more than 27 weeks. In fact, the average length of unemployment is now 26.2 weeks.
“I think these numbers are really frightening people,” said Valerie Ashley, a career counselor in Chestnut Hill who is cosponsoring a series of job-search workshops with merchants in the Chestnut Hill area. The next session will be on Oct. 17 above O’Doodle’s Toy Store.
“People had really counted on the economic stimulus to add jobs, but it hasn’t,” Ashley said. “When you are hearing about a 9.8 percent unemployment rate, it pulls down people’s sense of hope completely.”
Particularly hard hit by the job situation are young men, age 16 and 17, who want to work. For them, the unemployment rate now tops 30 percent. Even worse off are male and female African Americans, age 16 to 19, whose unemployment rate is close to 41 percent.
Although the numbers are still dreadful, Harry Griendling, founder and chief executive of DoubleStar Inc., a recruiting and employment consulting group in West Chester, says he is experiencing an uptick in business.
“When I talk to my friends in town, they are saying the same,” he said.
His company conducts a quarterly survey of area businesses about their hiring plans in the forthcoming quarter, and the survey taken over the summer showed improvement for the first time in a year. The percentage of companies that said they planned to hire increased.
But, he said, “it’s important not to overstate this. It’s not like the floodgates have opened and people are hiring.”
In the survey, for example, only 25 percent planned to add jobs in this quarter. While that’s up, hiring companies remain in the minority.
His company is a case in point. In December, Griendling laid off 15 staffers, including recruiters, a fifth of his 75-employee workforce.
Starting this month, he is bringing back five. But Griendling is hedging his bets. All he is committing to is a 90-day contract. “My clients are using caution, so I’m using caution.”
Among the five is Jeanene Johnston, 45, Hockessin, Del., who now is among the 15 million unemployed people in America.
“I am thrilled,” said Johnston, a recruiter who has seen several recessions in her 23 years in the business. This recession “has seemed longer and there are more people unemployed,” she said.
Indeed, the current recession has cost the nation a bigger share of jobs than any other economic downturn since the end of World War II, according to the Labor Department.
And the picture may get even bleaker when the U.S. Labor Department officially revises its figures next year. Some expect the number of jobs lost in the 12 months from March 2009 to March 2010 to increase by 824,000.
Many analysts expect that the economy grew at a healthy clip in the July-September quarter, technically ending the recession, but few think the recovery will be strong enough to lower the jobless rate. Most economists expect the rate to top 10 percent and keep climbing.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said yesterday that even if the economy were to grow at a 3 percent pace in the coming quarters, it would not be enough to quickly drive down the unemployment rate.
But hey, it’s just the first year! Give it time, folks. It’ll start raining down candy, soon enough. He’s “The One” we’ve been waiting for.
Recovery is bound to happen…perhaps in spite of the Age of Obama?
From the household survey:
* The 15.1 million unemployed is greater than the population of all but four states.
* U.S. unemployment rate: 9.8%, seasonally adjusted, the highest since 1983
* The broader unemployment rate, or “U-6”, which includes discouraged workers and those involuntarily working part-time: 17%
* Total number of unemployed: 15.1 million (from 7.6 million at the start of the recession in December 2007)
* Unemployment rate among major groups (not seasonally adjusted):
Adult men: 10.3%
Adult women: 7.8%
* The average duration of unemployment rose to 26.2 weeks, from 24.9 in August; the median duration rose to 17.3 weeks, from 15.4 in August.
* The percent of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more), rose to 35.6% of those unemployed, from 33.3% in August.
From the establishment survey:
* Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 263,000 in September (for a decline of 7.2 million total since the recession began)
* Employment declines by sector (overall, goods-producing dropped by 116,000 in September, while service-providing declined by 147,000):
Professional & business services: -8,000
Health care: +19,000
* The length of the average workweek declined to 33 hours, a postwar record low, from 33.1; both manufacturing hours worked and overtime hours declined.
Also from WSJ: Economists React: Job Market the ‘Achilles Heel’ of Recovery
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.