OK, today’s the day the US Bureau of Labor Statistics unleashes the monthly unemployment/employment numbers for the previous month — in this case, August 2012. Despite a consensus of economic forecasts of new jobs in the 120,000 -150,000 range for August, the Bureau reports a gain of only 96,000 jobs for the month. But overall unemployment has dipped slightly, from 8.3 percent last month to 8.1 percent this month. That said, I heard an economist on NPR say this morning that we need steady job growth of 350K new jobs per month to bring unemployment down to its “normal” level of around 6 percent. Given a number that’s less than one-third of his target, it looks like improvement will remain in “slow growth mode” for the foreseeable furture.
What’s up is that there continues to be some improvement in the overall outlook, though Table A-14 “Unemployed Persons by Industry and class of worker…” show a slight uptick in IT unemployment of 0.4 percent, up from 6.9 percent last August to 7.3 percent this August. What’s down is general unemployment (good) but also the number of new jobs created for the preceding month (24,000 less than the month before that, and well under the numbers needed to make a robust recovery). And overall, what’s sideways is the whole employment and jobs situation, which seems to be moving around and occasionally getting better, but only in a narrow range of very low growth, with no oomph! to the so-called recovery that’s supposedly been underway for the last three years or so.
When is a recovery not really a recovery? When it’s too slow to register on the daily lives of ordinary people, and appears to produce no perceptible changes or improvements in the overall situation. It’s still time to hunker, stay put, and wait for something to put the oomph! back into the economy and the workforce. Here’s hoping it happens sooner, rather than later.