07.06.2012 News Releases, Policy Points

New Month, Same Employment Story

CHAPEL HILL (July 6, 2012) – The national labor market turned in another lackluster performance in June,  as employers added just 80,000 more payroll positions than they eliminated. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent. Although the national labor market started 2012 on a positive note, growth has slowed markedly over the course of the year.

“June marked the 21st consecutive month of job growth in the United States,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the past three months, the national economy has netted an average of 75,000 jobs per month, a pace that, while positive, is well below the average pace of job growth recorded over the prior three-month period. The current rate of growth simply is insufficient to drive unemployment down to normal levels anytime soon.”

In June, the nation’s employers added 80,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+84,000), while government payrolls fell by 4,000 positions. Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for April and May underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 145,000 jobs over those two months, not the 146,000 positions previously reported.

Payroll levels in most major private-sector industry groups either grew or held steady in June. Professional and business services added the most positions (+47,000, with 51.9 percent of the growth occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector), followed by leisure and hospitality services (+13,000, driven entirely by the accommodation and food service subsector) and manufacturing (+11,000, due entirely to hiring by manufacturers of durable goods). Information shed the most positions, on net (-8,000).

“The American economy has added jobs every month for close to two years and has netted 902,000 positions so far in 2012,” noted Quinterno. “The current average rate of job growth—roughly 150,000 positions per month—nevertheless is insufficient to close the large jobs gap facing the United States. Even more alarmingly, the rate of job growth has decelerated over the course of the year. ”

Weak employment conditions were evident in the June household survey. Last month, 12.7 million Americans (8.2 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. The number of unemployed Americans and the unemployment rate essentially held steady last month and were down compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, the size of the labor force increased by 156,000 persons, and the share of the population participating in the labor force held steady at 63.8 percent. The share of the adult population with a job, meanwhile, remained at a depressed level (58.6 percent).

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (7.8 percent versus 7.4 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (14.4 percent) and Hispanic workers (11 percent) than among White ones (7.4 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 23.7 percent. Moreover, 7.4 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 9.5 percent.

Jobs remained scarce in June. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 14.9 percent. Among unemployed workers, 41.9 percent had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 39.9 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 56.7 percent of unemployed persons in June. Another 25.4 percent of unemployed persons in June were reentrants to the labor market, while 10.5 percent were new entrants.

“While the American economy added jobs in June, the rate of growth in the labor market has slowed over the course of 2012,” observed Quinterno. “While the causes of this slowdown are a topic for analysis and debate, the bottom line remains that the economy simple is not adding enough jobs to accommodate all those Americans who need and want work. Adequate hiring simply is not occurring, and as a result, mass long-term unemployment is becoming an even more entrenched feature of the American labor market.”

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