08.07.2009 News Releases

Less Bad Is Not The Same As Getting Better

CHAPEL HILL (AUGUST 7, 2009) — National employment numbers released this morning show that the July was the 19th consecutive month in which the American economy eliminated more jobs than it created. The American economy shed another 247,000 jobs, and the monthly unemployment rate totaled 9.4 percent.

“Compared to recent months, the economy shed many fewer jobs in July,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy issues. “The easing in the pace of job loss is welcome news, but it doesn’t mean that the job market is getting better. By any objective measure, the July report is an alarming one.”

In July, employers across the nation eliminated 247,000 more payroll positions than they added. Job losses were widespread with the greatest numerical losses occurring in construction (-76,000), manufacturing (-52,000), and retail trade (-44,000). Education and health service (+17,000), leisure and hospitality (+9,000), and government (+7,000) all added more positions than they lost.

“Since the start of the recession, the economy has lost, on net, 6.7 million positions,” notes Quinterno. “Thanks in part to federal recovery spending, the pace of job loss has slowed, but meaningful employment growth has yet to occur.”

The declining availability of work has pushed up the national unemployment rate. In July, 9.4 percent of the labor force – 14.5 million Americans – were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (9.8 percent versus 7.5 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (14.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.3 percent) than among White ones (8.6 percent).

“The overall unemployment rate and the rates among specific groups held steady in July,” explains Quinterno. “Nevertheless, the challenges of finding work or finding enough work remain serious. In July, one-third of unemployed workers had been jobless for at least 27 weeks. Significant numbers of employed workers also struggled to find enough hours of work.”

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, 223,000 positions, and the statewide unemployment rate has climbed to 11 percent.

“When viewed in light of other recent data, it appears that some of the economic pressures weighing down on the nation are easing,” observes Quinterno. “Yet a rapid rebound in the labor market appears unlikely. Economic demand remains weak, and even when demand returns, employers are unlikely to add permanent employees until they first add back hours to the schedules of current employees and exhaust temporary workforce solutions.”

“A long, jobless recover appears to be looming on the horizon,” warns Quinterno.

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

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