Friday, October 7, 2011

More thoughts on the employment report

Though the headline numbers indicate a relatively "good" employment report, there are some significant concerns beneath the surface.  As mentioned in a previous post, the U6 measure of unemployment rose to 16.5%, a 2011 high.  One reason is that the number of people working part-time for economic reasons rose to 9.2 million, the second highest level ever recorded (second only to September 2010).  Combine this with temp agencies adding about 20,000 jobs in each of the last 2 months and it indicates that, though jobs are being created, companies have become more cautious over the summer (increased reliance on temporary and part-time workers).  The cloudy economic outlook is making firms hesitant to commit to new full-time workers.  Meanwhile, average weekly earnings rose to $793, a 2.1% increase over the previous 12 months.  Unfortunately, inflation is currently 3.8%, so earnings adjusted for inflation have declined by 1.7% in the last year.