The employment situation in the United States is difficult right now, as any American can tell you. Job growth slowed significantly in June 2011, according to a Labor Department report published earlier this month. Only 18,000 nonfarm payroll positions were added, far fewer than the 150,000 jobs per month needed to keep pace with regular population growth.
If we are recovering from what many are calling the Great Recession, the recovery has been slow and erratic. This isn’t what any job seeker wants to hear, but it’s practical information. The following article will cover some important statistics on the current employment situation in the U.S.
Just how high was the unemployment rate last month?
As per the June 2011 Labor Department report on the employment situation, the unemployment rate in June was 9.2%, a small increase from the 9.1% seen in May. For comparison, the unemployment rate in 1933, the height of the Great Depression, was 24.9%. So, our employment situation is still nowhere near as challenging as what many of our great-grandparents had to face. However, due to population growth, there are technically more unemployed people now than there were during the Great Depression.
As of June, we had 14.1 million unemployed Americans. This number increased by 545,000 since March. There were 153.4 million people in the labor force in June, a number which hasn’t changed much in recent months.
Keep in mind that, when the Labor Department covered the employment situation, the term “unemployed” only referred to people who were actively looking for jobs. Homemakers and retired people, for example, didn’t contribute to the unemployment rate. People who were interested in working, were available to work, but hadn’t looked for work for 4 weeks before the Labor Department’s survey were considered “marginally attached to the labor force.”
How many people were interested in working, but not actively looking for jobs?
There were a significant number of people who were “marginally attached to the workforce.” In June, there were 2.7 million of these individuals, about the same as in 2010. Out of these 2.7 million, 982,000 were “discouraged workers.” These people weren’t looking for work because they didn’t think there were jobs available to them. The other 1.7 million people cited school attendance or family responsibilities as reasons for not searching for work within the past 4 weeks.
Was the unemployment rate very different for different demographic groups?
Yes, and it usually is. There were more unemployed men (9.1%) than women (8.0%). As usual, the employment situation was harder for teenagers, who had a much higher unemployment rate (24.5%).
The unemployment rate was 8.1% for white people, 11.6% for Hispanic people, and 16.2% for black people. The unemployment rate was 6.8% for Asians, not seasonally adjusted.
Is an education a bad investment in this economy?
No. The Labor Department’s statistics clearly show that the unemployment rate gradually gets less severe with each level of education you complete.
For adults 25 and older, the unemployment rate for high school dropouts was 14.3%. High school graduates had an unemployment rate of 10%, those with some college education or an associate’s degree had an unemployment rate of 8.4%, and those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher had an unemployment rate of 4.4%. Keep in mind that a person’s college major has a significant impact on their earnings and the likelihood they will be employed after graduation.
If there’s some job growth, who’s hiring?
Private companies are hiring, although not much. Private companies added 57,000 jobs in June, which was much lower than the 200,000 jobs they added February through April. The biggest gains have been in healthcare. The healthcare industry added 14,000 new jobs in June, although this was still lower than the average 24,000 jobs per month they’ve added over the past year. The most popular healthcare job category was ambulatory services.
The second-place winner was the leisure and hospitality industry. This industry added 34,000 jobs in June. The leisure and hospitality industry has grown by 279,000 since January 2010.
The government. The federal government cut 14,000 positions, while state and local governments eliminated another 25,000 jobs. Almost three-fourths of the lost jobs at the local level were in education.
In second place was the financial industry. This industry lost 15,000 jobs in June.
Temporary help services also sunk. This is especially worrisome for the future employment situation, as temp hires tend to rise before businesses hire permanently. This industry lost 12,000 jobs.
Are there any signs the employment situation might get better soon?
Possibly—there have been a few good signs along with the bad. According to a recent New York Times news article, some economists have cited “more recent data showing a pickup in retail sales at chain stores and a rise in an index of business hiring” as good signs for the employment situation.
Manufacturing jobs, which only added 6,000 positions in June, might see a boost soon. According to analysts’ predictions, auto production should go up this fall. This is in part because disruptions in supply are improving and because also of built-up demand. After all, most people can’t put off buying a car forever.
Obviously, the overall employment situation is painful. But, while it’s important to know what’s happening in our country, you can’t allow the employment situation to paralyze your job hunt. You have to make sure you know how to write a resume or write a CV that advertises you well. Use Facebook and Twitter for business networking. Stay positive and look for work every day. Chances are, your great-grandparents survived an employment situation worse than this, or you wouldn’t be here. You can make it, too.