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Sam Says: Unemployment Report Not as Rosy as You Think

Posted by Ted Canova on March 5, 2011 at 9:35 AM

So we all saw the Labor Department’s February unemployment report which hit Friday morning. Overall, there were some good things. Private sector jobs jumped by 192,000. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.9%, the lowest in two years. The jobless rate has also declined for three months in a row.  This had some economists (and the Obama White House) crowing that we’ve turned the corner.

Perhaps we have. But I dug a little deeper into the report and I have a few concerns.

First, and by far the scariest, is how long it takes to find a job. The average length of unemployment is now 37 weeks.  Almost 6 million Americans have been unemployed for over 27 weeks.  Another 8.1 million have been searching for over 15 weeks.

This, I think, shows that the prejudice against the unemployed isn’t easing even as the economy strengthens.  And nobody has put forth a plan to try and deal with this problem.

Two other numbers I want to share. In February there were 8.3 million people working part time who wanted to work full time.  Although that number has been falling over the past year it’s still remained stubbornly high indicating to me that many employers are squeezing more out of their part time workers and, thus, feel no need to convert those jobs into full time with benefits.

Finally this statistic, in February there were 2.7 million discouraged workers, people who want a job but are so frustrated they just stopped. Again, this number is not falling and, in fact, it’s a little higher than a year ago.

And here’s what really worried me. Last month local and state governments got rid of 30,000 workers. Some economists believe our budget cutting craze could cost another 200,000 people their jobs.  If that happens, the headlines won’t be as rosy with future Department of Labor reports.

 


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