The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

216,000 Jobs Lost in August, Unemployment up .3% to 9.7%

The manufacturing sector lost 63K, the financial sector 28K and Construction lost 65. Health care added 47.4 thousand jobs.

One of the more interesting findings is that up till April government jobs were increasing, since April they have declined.  The decline isn’t huge, but it exists at all levels of government.  For some reason the postal service in particular seems to be shedding jobs.

Though the job loss is less than we’ve seen in the past it’s surprisingly uniform: except for health care and social assistance everything else is either down, or just barely increasing.  Fundamentally, every industry without pricing power is taking it on the chin, but if you’re sick, you’re sick, so the medical industry retains the ability to hire.  I suspect that the manufacturing numbers would be much worse if defense related manufacturing was removed.

The broadest measure of unemployment, which includes all discouraged workers and folks who work part time but want full time work is up .5% to 16.8%.

Men have lost jobs a lot faster than women.  The female unemployment rate has increased by 2.5% in the last year compared to an increase for males of 4.3%.

America continues to be hollowed out.  The stimulus will start hitting harder over the next few months, and we should see somewhat better numbers but my long term forecast remains the same: before the next recession, the US will not see a recovery to the same percentage of people employed as before the recession.  My forecast for the year was a technical recovery of GDP before the end of the year (it looks like we might even have one for the second quarter, which is sooner than I expected) and no job gains before next year.  Might be wrong on the second as well, but any job gains will be nominal and below the 150,000 level just required to keep up with population increases.

The job market is certainly not going to feel good this year. I expect it to remain hard to find a new job right through the end of 2010.  Since the likelihood of a new civilian stimulus bill is low, and all stimulus will have to be run through the defense department and the Afghan war, I would suggest that those who can see what they can do about getting a security clearance.  The best paid jobs with the best benefits will be in the defense industry for the time being—unless you’re able to finagle a high end job in the finance industry, and be kept afloat with trillions of dollars of Federal Reserve money, of course.  In which case, buddy, could you spare some change?

[Employment situation release from BLS (pdf)]


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  1. John Williams publishes Shadow Government Statistics — alternate data, and he figures unemployment at 21%.

  2. John B.

    My eyes glaze over when I see or hear about unemployment numbers. Since the ’80’s and Reagan’s redefining of what it means to be unemployed I never fell like I have a handle on what true unemployment numbers are and I never feel like I am being told the whole story.

  3. craz3z

    I’m one of the ones that don’t count anymore. One year and counting. *sigh*

  4. The Post Office is doing a realignment kind of thing. Quite a few offices are being closed, so I suspect that’s why they’re getting smaller. Don’t know why else employment would be lower in the government sector, though. Maybe the census? I figured that would last into the Fall, at least.

  5. Ian Welsh

    Without the post office, the Feds are up just slightly (7K), though I consider numbers like that essentially zero (within the margin of error).

  6. Jim

    Objective laws of economics? Continued development of technology?

    Robots making cars, picking vegetables, stocking shelves, running warehouses …self -service checkout, robotic janitors and robots making more robots. Does this sound far fetched? Every thing I have mentioned is happening today; and it is only the beginning.

    What percent of the world ‘s workers will be replaced by robotics in thirty years?

    What kind of economic system will we have when half the work force does not have money?

  7. BDBlue

    I can explain the Post Office. The economy is bad for its business as a lot of the more profitable stuff it does, isn’t being done. At the same time, it is supposed to be run like a “private” business, with it’s losses capped. It can’t simply continue to go into debt, so it has to cut costs, but is politically restricted on what it can cut. Oddly, those restrictions don’t keep it from firing people. And while it’s expected to “compete” with private industry, it has to do a whole lot of things private industry doesn’t have to do, like pre-pay retirement benefits. See here.

  8. BDBlue

    Ugh, it should be “its” not “it’s”.

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