This morning, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics issued the Employment Situation Summary for July 2012. It’s either a dark cloud with a silver lining, or a silver lining with a dark cloud, depending on how you’re inclined to look a it. That said, the silver lining is indisputable if still too modest to presage any kind of rapid turnaround in overall unemployment.
The silver lining is that some economists expected that dismal monthly job growth rates under 100,000 would continue this month, continuing the running average for April, May, and June of about 75,000 new jobs added in each of those months. The actual number reported was 163,000, more than double the last quarter’s run rate, and trending more toward the 200,000 – 300,000 per month needed to make any kind of dent in overall unemployment, and to help put the long-term unemployed and discouraged workers back on somebody’s payroll.
The dark cloud is that the unemployment rate actually edged up by one-tenth of one percent, from 8.2 to 8.3 percent for July (in the three months with those dismal jobs-added counts, it had managed to stay stuck at 8.2 percent the whole time). This is sure to provide ammunition for both Republican and Democratic candidates in the various national, state, and local campaigns now underway, none as fierce or vocal as the ongoing face-off between Misters Obama and Romney. Neither side can use it entirely against the other, so both sides will look for aspects that make their guy look good, and the other guy look bad. The fallout should come fast and furious, and be interesting to watch.
The Information sector, as covered in Table A-14 of this report continues to show signs of improvement, too. The number of unemployed information workers in July 2011 was 237,000 which translated into 7.6 percent unemployment for the section. By July 2012, the number had dropped to 190,000 which corresponds to a 6.7 percent rate of unemployment in information instead. Likewise, Table A-13 which provides data by occupation, shows that Professional and related applications have improved from 4.6 percent unemployed in July 2011 versus 3.8 percent unemployed in July 2012. For office and administrative support occupations, rates dipped from 9.4 percent to 8.3 percent (I’m guessing that IT professionals are probably represented in both of these categories, and possibly others besides).
But one thing remains quite certain: slow growth mode appears to dominate forecasts for the foreseeable future.