In my final post for 2010 “Say Goodbye to 2010, Hello to 2011” I observed that not much had changed in the employment situation for the whole year, despite a few modest ups and downs as it wound through its course. I also said the future remained uncertain and that dramatic changes in the near term were unlikely. Alas, the January 2011 Employment Situation Summary released on Friday, January 7, 2011, only bears this out. Overall employment increased by 103,000 for the month but that’s just barely enough to accommodate population growth in our country (with new workers entering the job force), and does nothing to start the huge backlog of unemployed on their way back into the full-time workforce.
Before the report came out, I heard predictions from various economists that the number of new jobs created in December would range between 140,000 and 180,000, but nothing as low as the final number that emerged in its contents. Sigh. I think this reflects the overwhelming desire for some good employment news, as much as it reflects the impetus for economists to see silver linings in every faint glimmer of hope that twinkles on the employment horizon.
For the time being, though unemployment dipped from 9.8 to 9.4 percent in December, things look like they’re going to keep muddling along at a slow and frustrating pace. In fact, the numbers are really more a reflection of the way the BLS maintains unemployment counts, and drops individuals who are no longer looking for work from the tally of unemployed persons, rather than a true reflection of the number of people out of work who would like to be employed.
In the grand tradition of seeking such glimmers myself, a couple did surface in the latest BLS report, where IT is concerned. Information unemployment as per Table A-14, is down from 8.5 percent in 2009 to 8.1 percent in 2010. And, as per table B-6, Information employment held steady in December 2010 to match November 2010 levels of 2,181,000 workers altogether.
Nevertheless, “hunker down” and “wait for things to improve” remain the watchwords on the employment scene, and look to stay that way for some time yet. Happy New Year!