08.03.2012 News Releases, Policy Points

National Job Market Expanded In July

CHAPEL HILL (August 3, 2012) – The national labor market recovered from a dismal June by adding 163,000 more payroll jobs than it lost in July. That growth, however, proved insufficient to reduce either the number of persons who were unemployed or the unemployment rate, which remained at an elevated level of 8.3 percent.

“July marked the 22nd 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 105,000 jobs per month, a pace that, while positive, will not drive unemployment down to normal levels anytime soon.”

In July, the nation’s employers added 163,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+172,000), while government payrolls fell by 9,000 positions due mainly to cuts by state and local governments (-6,000 and -1,000, respectively). Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for May and June underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 151,000 jobs over those two months, not the 157,000 positions previously reported.

Payroll levels in most major private-sector industry groups either grew or held steady in July. Professional and business services added the most positions (+49,000, with 55.3 percent of the growth occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector), followed by education and health services (+38,000 with growth essentially balanced between the education and health care fields) and leisure and hospitality services (+27,000, driven entirely by the accommodation and food service subsector). Manufacturing also netted 25,000 jobs, of which virtually all were related to the manufacture of durable goods.

“The American economy has added jobs every month for almost two years and has netted 1.1 million positions so far in 2012,” noted Quinterno. “The current average rate of job growth—roughly 151,000 positions per month—nevertheless will not close the large jobs gap facing the United States anytime soon.”

Weak employment conditions were evident in the July household survey. Last month, 12.8 million Americans (8.3 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 contracted by 150,000 persons over the month, and the share of the population participating in the labor force held essentially steady at 63.7 percent. The share of the adult population with a job, meanwhile, remained at a depressed level (58.4 percent).

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (7.7 percent versus 7.5 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (14.1 percent) and Hispanic workers (10.3 percent) than among White ones (7.4 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 23.8 percent. Moreover, 6.9 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 8.9 percent.

Jobs remained scarce in July. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 15 percent. Among unemployed workers, 40.7 percent had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 38.8 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 56.1 percent of unemployed persons in July. Another 26.6 percent of unemployed persons in July were reentrants to the labor market, while 10.3 percent were new entrants.

“While the American economy added jobs in July, the overall rate of growth remains sub-par, and the fundamental dynamics of the national labor market have not changed so far 2012,” observed Quinterno. “There simply are not enough jobs for millions of Americans who want and need work, yet policymakers have refused to take any steps to address the problem. That inaction has locked the national labor market into a destructive and dispiriting status quo.”

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