In yesterday’s blog, I commented on outplacement firm CEO John Challenger’s observation that we face a period of “slow growth mode” for the foreseeable future. The accuracy and relevance of his remarks were underscored by today’s release of the Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for June 2012. The numbers paint just the kind of picture that Challenger might have suggested himself: low job growth numbers (a net gain of 80,000, somewhat less than the 100,000 needed to maintain parity with new entrants to the workforce), unchanged overall unemployment still at 8.2 percent, and little net change by industry sectors except for professional and business services for June.
The information sector, as depicted in Table A-14 shows some improvements over this time last year. The number of unemployed has dropped from 504,000 (June ’11) to 437,000 (June ’12), while unemployment rates have moved from 7.9 percent (June ’11) to 7.1 percent (June ’12). Despite some modest improvements here in our home sector, however, job growth is flat enough to suggest that it will be long and gradual slog before unemployment rates will get back down to the 5-6 percent levels that have traditionally denoted “full employment” here in the USA.
But gosh, things could be worse. I heard on NPR earlier this week that average unemployment in the EU is around eleven percent, with some of the worst-off countries in that bloc at levels over 20 percent (such as Greece and Spain, where austerity and ultra-lean budgets have resulted in the dismissal of many public sector employees, and where businesses keep retrenching as well). Let’s hope that some crisis does not derail this slow growth mode we’re currently involved in, and do away with job growth altogether.