This morning’s latest Employment Situation Summary for September, 2010, from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says a lot by saying very little. Total unemployment edged up very slightly from 9.5 percent last month to 9.6 percent this month. Total employment dipped very slightly again by 54,000 jobs, but that includes another 114,000 temporary US Government Census workers leaving the payrolls, offset by 67,000 workers added in the private sector. According to this latest summary “From May through August, the jobless rate remained in the range of 9.5 to 9.7 percent.”
To me, the most depressing number in this week’s report is the tally of discouraged workers, currently at 1.1 million, defined as follows “Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.” Another 2.4 million are marginally attached to the labor force, which means “These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months.” They are not counted as unemployed, however, because they had not looked for a job in the four weeks that preceded this latest survey. That means the real tally of unemployed in the US right now is the official count — 14.9 million — plus the 2.4 million “marginally attached” individuals just mentioned, for a total of 17.3 million out of work in varying degrees of workforce engagement.
Yikes! Things aren’t getting too much worse at the moment, but they’re not getting any better, either. This can’t be a good omen for the Democrats, as the party in power, with mid-term elections now less than three months away.
Looking at IT, things are holding steady with a net loss of 1,000 Information jobs (see Table B-1) over the past month. Telecommunications (-3,600) and data processing (-1,300) lost the most jobs, while publishing (+300), motion picture and sound recording (+800), broadcasting (except Internet, +1,600), and other information services (+300) all eked out modest gains.
Obviously, there’s a whole lotta nothin’ going on right now, in IT in particular, and in the economy in general. For me the “Big Question” has to be: “When things get moving again, will they be going up or down?” I’ll be darned if I can tell.