It’s the second Friday of the month so it’s time to chew on the latest employment situation summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the last month of 2013 (December, that is), new jobs jumped by a puny and somewhat disheartening 74,000 (many economists had been expecting something in the 230,000 range, over three times the amount reported). That, as you may image, is the bad news in this latest report. The good news is that unemployment declined from 7.0 to 6.7 percent. For 2013, in fact, the number of unemployed went down by 1.9 million overall, and the unemployment percentage dipped from 7.9 to 6.7 percent. That’s the good news, but it must be tempered by the understanding that labor force participation (the percentage of the population that actually works for a living, vis-a-vis the total population of people old enough to be working, roughly 18-67). Sadly, too, the number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) stands at 3.9 million, and also represents over one-third (37.7 percent) of the total unemployed.
December 2013 fails to add as many new jobs as expected (or hoped for), but also sees unemployment drop by 0.3 percent.
For the IT sector, however, the year-over-year numbers are a bit more positive. Overall, the number of unemployed persons in the Information sector (Table A-14) dropped from 229,000 to 133,000 (by 96,000) from December 2012 to December 2013, with percentage rates moving from 8.0 to 4.8 in the same period. Careful analysis of those numbers, however, reveals that overall employment in Information dropped from 2.86M to 2.77M over the same interval, which means 90,000 jobs disappeared in the sector as well.
From both a big picture and the information sector perspective, employment still remains a mixed bag. Unemployment is up, but the overall number of jobs is down. We also remain stuck in “slow growth mode,” much to the disappointment of those economists who’d hoped for a brighter portent of a positive trend and a better future. Looks like we’re still going to have to keep hanging in there for some time to come!