Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the Right Track

Jason T. White, MBA, Ph.D.
Director of Investments
Family Investment Center

Celebrating its 125th year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the data crunching arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, gave the nation an early Christmas present with its December 4 release of the latest employment statistics. The news was good!

The unemployment rate fell from 10.2 percent to 10 percent for the month of November. Job losses essentially slowed to zero, with a reported 11,000 job decrease in nonfarm payroll unemployment, the lowest job loss total since the recession officially began in December 2007.

From Fall 2008 to late Summer 2009, the economy was shedding jobs at a rate of over 400,000 per month, with the most severe monthly losses approaching 800,000 jobs in the Winter of 2009.

The economy is picking up steam, and I would not be at all surprised to see the December report be our first month of job GROWTH since December, 2007 – a welcome sign of rebounding employer confidence and general economic hope.

Even with this good news, the jobless picture is still sobering. There are 15.4 million Americans who are unemployed. BLS defines unemployed as those looking for work but unable to find it. The jobless total was 7.5 million, and the unemployment rate 4.9 percent, when the Great Recession began in December 2007.

The November unemployment rate among the “major worker groups” as defined by the BLS were as follows:

Adult Men 10.5%
Adult Women 7.9%
Teenagers 26.7%
Whites 9.3%
Blacks 15.6%
Hispanics 12.7%
Asians 7.3%

Job losses continued in the construction, manufacturing and information industries, while temporary labor and healthcare posted job growth. Of those individuals classified as “long-term” unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose by 293,000 to 5.9 million, and the employment-to-population ratio was unchanged at 58.5 percent.

It is clear to me that the economic recovery is gaining solid footing, and this is be reflected in the improved jobs picture. Look for the labor market to show increasing strength as we enter 2010.

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