09.04.2009 News Releases

Another Rough Month for US Workers

CHAPEL HILL (September 4, 2009) – National employment numbers released today show that August was the 20th straight month in which the economy eliminated more jobs than it added. Another 216,000 jobs were lost, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent.

“By an objective measure, August was a rough month for working Americans,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Jobs continued to disappear, and individuals seeking work found it increasingly difficult to find positions.”

In August, employers across the nation eliminated 216,000 more payroll positions than they added. Also, revisions to the July data revealed that the economy lost 29,000 more positions than first reported (-276,000 positions versus -247,000).

August job losses were widespread with the greatest numerical declines occurring in construction (-65,000), manufacturing (-63,000), and financial activities (-28,000). Education and health service (+52,000) was the only industry to post a sizable increase.

“The pace of job losses has moderated in recent months, thanks in part to federal recovery spending,” notes Quinterno. “The easing is welcome, but the bottom line is that the job market still is deteriorating.”

That decline is reflected in the household data released this morning. In June, 9.7 percent of the labor force – 14.9 million Americans – were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (10.1 percent versus 7.6 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.1 percent) and Hispanic workers (13 percent) than among White ones (8.9 percent).

“Jobless individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to find new positions,” adds Quinterno. “Last month, one-third of all unemployed workers had been out of work for at least six months. Many more individuals either had given up on finding new positions or were working fewer hours than they needed or wanted.”

Today’s national data suggest that another weak employment report is in store for North Carolina. Since the recession’s start, North Carolina employers have eliminated, on net, 258,000 positions, and the statewide unemployment rate has climbed to 11 percent.

“Based on the August data, a rapid rebound in the labor market appears unlikely,” observes Quinterno. “Employment difficulties remain widespread and are keeping demand in check. Unemployment likely will continue to rise into 2010.”
“Even when economic demand returns, firms are unlikely to hire new permanent employees until they first max out the overtime potential of existing workers, add back hours to employees on reduced schedules and exhaust temporary workforce solutions,” cautions Quinterno. “Robust job growth remains well over the horizon.”

Contact: John Quinterno, Principal, (919) 622-2392

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