Will the momentum of hiring over the last few months increase consumer demand?
Is this all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago?
The American unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to its lowest level in two and a half years in November, despite the many global crises batting against the economy.
[B]The jobless rate fell to 8.6 percent, after having been stuck around 9 percent for most of 2011, the Labor Department said Friday. A separate survey of employers, which economists pay more attention to than the rate, also brought modestly good news: Companies added 120,000 jobs last month, after adding 100,000 jobs in October.[/B]
[B]These numbers were not particularly impressive by historical standards — payroll growth was just about enough to keep up with population growth — but there were other signs of resilience.[/B] Employment in the previous two months was revised upward substantially, and the report showed companies have been taking on more and more temporary workers, indicating that more permanent hires may be in the cards, too.
“If you go back to August, all sorts of people were telling us that the economy was headed straight into recession,” said Paul Ashworth, senior United States economist at Capital Economics. “Since that point, we’ve become more and more worried about the euro zone and other areas of the global economy, but somehow, at least for the moment, the U.S. economy seems to be shrugging all that off.”
Other recent economic reports have also been positive, including increases in help-wanted advertising, decreases in jobless claims and a loosening of credit conditions for small businesses. [B]Perhaps most encouraging was a recent survey of small businesses that found hiring intentions to be at their highest level since September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed. [/B]
“Small businesses were cheering up at the end of last year, but then got clobbered by the jump in oil prices, the Japanese earthquake and then the debt ceiling fiasco,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics. “Small businesses employ half the workforce, and we need them on board.”
Still, serious concerns remain about the economy’s ability to weather a potential meltdown in Europe.
[B]American governments at all levels continued to bleed workers, for one[/B]. [B]And the decline in the unemployment rate had a down side: It fell partly because more workers got jobs, but also because about 315,000 workers dropped out of the labor force. That left the share of Americans actively participating in the work force at a historically depressed 64 percent, down from 64.2 percent in October. [/B]
Even excluding these hundreds of thousands of dropouts, [B]the country still had a backlog of more than 13 million unemployed workers, whose spells of unemployment averaged an all-time high of 40.9 weeks.
[B]“They say businesses are refusing to look at résumés from the unemployed,” said Esther Perry, 59, of Bedford, Mass., who participated in a recent report on unemployed workers put together by USAction, a liberal coalition. “What do you think my chances are? Once unemployment runs out, I don’t know what I will do.” [/B]
Even those who are employed are in fragile positions. [B]Average hourly earnings fell 0.1 percent in November, and a Labor Department report released Wednesday found that the share of national income going to labor was at an all-time low last quarter.
These softer spots in Friday’s numbers underscored just how much President Obama needs additional stimulus, a tidy and fast resolution to the European debt crisis or some other economic breakthrough to reinvigorate the job market before the 2012 presidential election.
On the issue of government action to stimulate the economy, there has been some movement in Washington toward extending the payroll tax cut, which is currently scheduled to expire at the end of this month. Economists have said that allowing the expiration of the tax cut — which lets more than 160 million mostly middle-class Americans keep two percentage points more of their pay checks — could be a severe drag on both job creation and output growth.
“If isn’t extended, it will have an impact on consumer spending in the first half of next year because it’ll put a big dent in consumer income,” said Conrad DeQuadros, senior economist at RDQ Economics. “To the extent that reduces spending, there will be second-round effects on hiring.”
The other major stimulus program scheduled to expire by 2012 is the extended unemployment insurance benefits, which allow some jobless workers to continue receiving benefits for as long as 99 weeks. Already, millions of workers have exhausted their benefits, and ending extended benefits is likely to affect another sizable chunk of the unemployed.
“In January alone, 1.8 million workers who currently receive federal unemployment insurance or would have begun to receive it will be cut off if Congress does not renew the program,” according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project.
Unemployment benefits are believed to have one of the most stimulative effects on the economy, since recipients of these benefits are likely to spend all of the money they receive quickly and so pump more spending through the economy.
One may want to look at why there was "improvement".
[QUOTE]People who drop out of the labor force, like those who give up looking for work, are not counted in the jobless rate, and about half of the 0.4 percentage point decline was due to this factor. In fact, about 190,000 of the unemployed left the labor force last month.[/QUOTE]
I'd love for there to be meaningful improvement. A closer look at what makes up the numbers behind this most recent change pretty clearly shows this news is not as all-good as it first appears.
[quote]It fell partly because more workers got jobs, but also because about 315,000 workers dropped out of the labor force.
...the country still had a backlog of more than 13 million unemployed workers, whose spells of unemployment averaged an all-time high of 40.9 weeks.
Average hourly earnings fell 0.1 percent in November, and a Labor Department report released Wednesday found that the share of national income going to labor was at an all-time low last quarter.[/quote]
so 315,000 people were not counted because they were not looking anymore. According to who? So they no longer count. Hey, if everyone stopped looking Obama could claim zero unemployment. BTW, 120,000 new jobs is not enough to stay ahead of the game.
The good news - OWS people are really going to get screwed - certainly nobody is going to hyire them with hiring still well below par.
All those geography, women's studies, art and music majors with all that debt.
What about the 300,000 who have stopped looking for work, they are not counted. Don't forget the poverty rate is up under Obama even with trillions he has spent. Where is the Hope and Change. Thousands have lost hope and have little change. Wow what progress! Get the Brooms and Garbage cans ready.