Friday, December 4, 2009

Gains in Temporary Help Flattens Out Unemployment Numbers

The unemployment rate edged down slightly to 10.0 percent in November from 10.2 percent in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. There was only a net job loss of 11,000 in October. In the prior 3 months, payroll job losses had averaged 135,000 a month.

The flatenning of the unemployment can largely attributed to gains in the number of temp workers. Employment in professional and business services rose by 86,000 in November.Temporary help services accounted for the majority of the increase, adding 52,000 jobs. Since July, temporary help services employment has risen by 117,000. Employers using temp services are obviously a signal that firms are very nervous about the economy and do not want to take on the burden of a permanent employee.

The only other sector to gain was the heavily government influenced health care industry. Health care employmentrose in November by 21,000 with notable gains in home health care services (7,000) and hospitals (7,000). The health care industry has added 613,000 jobs since the recession began inDecember 2007.

Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates for adult men (10.5 per-cent), adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (26.7 percent), whites (9.3 per-cent), blacks (15.6 percent), and Hispanics (12.7 percent) showed little change in November.

The number of long-term unemployed(those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 293,000 to 5.9 million. The percentage of unemployed persons jobless for 27 weeks or more increased by 2.7 percentage points to 38.3 percent.

About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in November, an increase of 376,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not sea-sonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 861,000 discouraged workers inNovember, up from 608,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally ad-justed.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work be-cause they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 mil-lion persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched forwork in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attend-ance or family responsibilities.

Construction employment declined by 27,000 over the month. Manufacturing employment fell by 41,000 in November. Employment in the information industry fell by 17,000 in November.

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