Normally, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics posts its monthly employment figures on the first Friday of the month, and occasionally a week later when the beginning of the month falls on or near a Friday. This month, thanks to the US Government shut-down, it’s been more seriously delayed. I’d been checking into the US BLS website on an on-and-off basis, but I found out yesterday that the September employment situation summary was available when commentators started to discuss its contents on a newscast around mid-day yesterday as I was driving in my car.
Another month of modest employment gains shows we’re still in slow growth mode, employment-wise.
Here’s the skinny: employment continues to edge up slightly month-over-month, with a modest increase of only 148,000 jobs for September, 2013. Even so, employment edged down from 7.3 percent in August to 7.2 percent in September (Whoopee!). According to Table A-14, the information sector shows a nice improvement, down from 7.3 percent in September 2012 to 6.6 percent the same time this year (and from 205,000 unemployed to 189,000 unemployed in the sector in those same months). Revisions to earlier months show both losses and gains: the July numbers went down from 104,000 to 89,000, while those for August went up from 169,000 to 193,000, for a net gain of 9,000 over previously reported numbers.
I’m still not seeing any huge rays of hope for the 11.2 million Americans still counted as officially unemployed. Along with another 2-3 million discouraged workers who’ve more or less withdrawn from the workforce, they’re not likely to take much heart from such anemic growth numbers. At 150,000 – 200,000 new jobs per month, we can just about keep up with new entrants to the workforce, which means that whole backlog is likely to experience little or no relief for the foreseeable future. We really need job growth numbers of 300,000 or higher per month to start soaking up this vast reserve of unemployed workers. Keep your fingers crossed. Until a miracle happens, the old, familiar “Hunker down” mentality is likely to persist, among employers and employees alike.