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Hiring Slows in August, Adding to Pressure on Fed and Obama

The economy added 96,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said Friday.


Job growth slowed substantially in August, increasing the political pressure on the White House and strengthening the argument for new action by Federal Reserve policy makers to stimulate the economy when they meet next week.

The economy added a total of 96,000 jobs in August, down from a revised figure of 141,000 in July and well below the 125,000 level economists had been expecting.

The latest figures confirm suspicions that the economy has been treading water recently — over the last six months, monthly job growth has averaged 97,000, typically not enough to absorb new entrants into the labor force, let alone reduce the unemployment rate.

For August, the jobless rate fell to 8.1 percent, from 8.3 percent in July, but economists said that was a sign more unemployed workers were dropping out of the work force, rather than an indication that new jobs were being created.

Current and former members of the military at a job fair on Thursday in San Diego.

Republicans have made persistently high unemployment a centerpiece of their argument for denying President Obama a second term, and the new figures give the White House little to boast about.

“This is one of those reports that as you dig deeper, it looks less friendly,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The improvement in the rate was purely due to people who gave up looking for jobs.”

Indeed, he noted that the government report showed the overall labor force dropped by 368,000 workers in August.

“Politically, you can spin the drop in the rate as a positive, but it’s a sign of weakness,” Mr. Harris said. “The economy is slowing down and it wasn’t very robust to begin with.”

Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, last week delivered a forceful argument for more action, calling the current unemployment level a “grave concern.”

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee convenes on Wednesday and Thursday, and many economists and traders are looking for major news to come out of the meeting. Some expect the Fed to announce another round of asset purchases aimed at lowering borrowing costs and boosting investments. A more limited option would be for the Fed to extend its benchmark interest rate, set near zero, into 2015 from late 2014.

The rate of job creation has been erratic in 2012. After adding more than 200,000 jobs in both January and February, the economy slowed and by June the gain totaled an anemic 80,000. It bounced back in July, but few economists see big gains in the coming months.

Friday’s report showed that the private sector created a total of 103,000 jobs in August, while the number of government jobs fell by 7,000.

In order to make a significant dent in the unemployment rate, the economy would have to add at least 200,000 jobs a month, assuming modest growth in the labor force.

The manufacturing sector, a closely watched barometer for the broader economy, lost 15,000 jobs.

Sectors that did show growth in employment tended to be lower-paying ones, said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo. About 40 percent of the new jobs came from four sectors: retail, leisure and hospitality, temporary help services, and home health care services.

“This is one of the reasons wages haven’t been growing,” he said. “People are taking jobs they didn’t take in the past, moving from sectors like construction into jobs at lower-paying, big-box retailers.”

There were other signs the economy remained stuck in low gear. Average hourly earnings ticked downward by 1 cent in August to $23.52 while the length of the typical private sector workweek remained flat at 34.4 hours. Both measures have barely budged from where they were six months ago.

Hiring Slows in August, Adding to Pressure on Fed and Obama


Jobs Outlook Remains Tepid


This week’s economic data has come in broadly as expected, leaving the forecasters at Moody’s Analytics to continue to forecast that job growth will be slower in August — but still faster than it was in the spring. The latest post on Moody’s Dismal Scientist blog explains:

Labor market data over the past week confirm that August has been a sluggish month for job creation. We still look for a 145,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls, not far from July’s 163,000 gain and above the second quarter average of 73,000. The unemployment rate likely edged down to 8.2% this month from July’s 8.3%. While improving slowly, the U.S. job market is generating little wage income growth, which will be felt as rising gasoline and food prices test consumers’ resilience.

The Moody’s assessment, however, goes on to cite “reasons for concern that the August numbers could undershoot our forecast,” including a rise in the four-week moving average of continuing claims for unemployment benefits, aweakening index of consumer confidence and a region-by-region Fed report (known as the beige book) that was “not upbeat about the health of the job market.” It adds:

Each employment report is important, but this month’s will be especially so, as it comes as the Fed considers new round of quantitative easing. If the numbers are notably weaker than expected, the odds of near-term Fed action will rise.

Moody’s projections continue to indicate that the presidential election will remain close. As we’ve written previously, history suggests that average job gains between 100,000 and 175,000 in the six months before an election tend to lead to a close race.

Jobs Outlook Remains Tepid

Find A Job – Find The Job That’s Right For You

Claims for Jobless Benefits Rise

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits for the first time rose a slight 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, evidence that the job market’s recovery remains modest and uneven.

Separately, the Commerce Department said new-home sales rose 3.6 percent in July.

Applications for unemployment benefits are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they fall consistently below 375,000, it generally suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

New claims for unemployment benefits have risen for two straight weeks. But they are still lower than they were five weeks ago. That suggests hiring may be improving slightly this month.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 3,750 last week to 368,000.

Better economic growth bolstered hiring last month, according to government figures. Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the most since February. Job gains averaged only 73,000 jobs a month from April through June, not enough to keep up with a rising population. The unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in July, from 8.2 percent the month before.

Many economists say stronger growth is needed to create enough jobs to lower unemployment. The economy grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent from April through June, down from 2 percent in the first quarter and 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

In a separate report, the government said sales of newly constructed homes in the United States rose 3.6 percent in July, matching a two-year high, to an annual rate of 372,000 units.

In the past 12 months, new-home sales have jumped 25 percent. Still, the increase is from a historically low level. New-home sales are well below the annual pace of 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

One trend holding back sales is that there aren’t many newly built homes available. New homes for sale dipped last month to 142,000, the lowest on records dating back to 1963.

Claims for Jobless Benefits Rise

As jobs become available, the vacancies are most often at the bottom

In recent months, several local companies in a variety of sectors have turned to familiar faces to take on key executive roles. Defense giant Lockheed Martin announced in April that its chief operating officer, Christopher E. Kubasik, above, would replace retiring chief executive Robert J. Stevens.


High-level executives looking to nab a new C-suite job in the Washington area may be hard-pressed to find a place to send their résumé.

Hiring specialists and others say that local companies are frequently filling top positions from within their own ranks instead of casting a wider net, a trend that began during the recession and has continued under the uncertainty of a sluggish recovery.

And after promoting from the inside, businesses are more likely to have job openings on the lower rungs of their corporate ladder, which can create a domino effect of opportunity for the many entry-level workers who have flocked to the region in recent years.

When it comes to executive jobs, “There are fewer of them, and [hiring] is not happening in the same way with the same frequency,” said Paul Villella, chief executive of Reston-based staffing firm HireStrategy.

In recent months, several local companies in a variety of sectors have turned to familiar faces to take on key executive roles. Defense giant Lockheed Martin announced in April that its chief operating officer, Christopher E. Kubasik, would replace retiring chief executive Robert J. Stevens. In December, J.W. Marriott Jr. announced that company veteran Arne M. Sorenson would take over as the hotel chain’s chief executive. In February, Rosetta Stone promoted Stephen M. Swad, its chief financial officer, to president and chief executive.

In some cases, firms are handling a departure at the top by spreading around that person’s duties among other senior leaders, allowing them to eliminate the position.

Other times, companies are absorbing these losses with more of a chain-reaction strategy.

“Everybody moves up a notch, but the new person comes in at the bottom,” said Lisa Sturtevant, a researcher at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.

This method of filling vacancies, Sturtevant said, helps explain a recent influx of entry-level workers to the area.

According to Sturtevant’s analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 32,000, or 13 percent, of the 250,000 workers who moved to the area from 2008 through 2010 were between 22 and 24 years old.

She said this age group “always should be a big share of movers, but this is bigger than the past.”

Seven percent of the population that lives here are 18 to 24, according to Sturtevant’s research.

As the job market crumbled elsewhere in the country, the Washington metropolitan area fared relatively well, largely because of its economy’s dependence on the fairly stable federal government.

That may be changing as the federal government looks to cut back. As other cities’ economies have picked up, so too has their ability to compete for young workers.

Still, at least some recent college graduates continue to see Washington as a place of opportunity.

Rachael Peli, a 2012 graduate of Anderson University in Indiana, said it was a key part of her decision to move to the District.

“It was mostly the jobs, to be honest,” Peli said.

She applied to jobs in Chicago, Indiana and on the West Coast, but ultimately she said she decided, “There are so many more opportunities in my field if I go to D.C.”

Shortly after arriving, she landed a position in the digital public affairs practice at Edelman.

Joe DeGioia, president of executive search firm JDG Associates, says the challenges facing executive-level job candidates may vary by sector. The constriction in high-level hiring in the recent past, he said, occurred largely among administrative or human resource jobs. However, marketing and sales executives are more in demand.

“Everybody needs more business,” DeGioia said, and these leaders would be on the front lines of generating it.

As jobs become available, the vacancies are most often at the bottom


Get a Job: The Craigslist Experiment

By Eric K. Auld

Get a Job: The Craigslist Experiment

Like so many other job-hunters, writer Eric K. Auld used Craigslist as a resource. Curious to know what he was up against and to gain a better understanding of the employment landscape, Eric posted a false job listing. In a day, he’d received more than 650 responses.

I am a 26-year-old with a Master’s degree in English. I am currently looking for a full-time job, preferably in a major city, since that’s where a vast multitude of jobs exist. Unfortunately, so do an even vaster multitude of job-seekers.

Why would I ever want a full-time job, you may ask? Because I am currently an Adjunct Lecturer in English, which means part-time employment, which means a limited amount of classes per semester, which means no steady work during summer or winter breaks, which means no health benefits and barely enough money to pay rent, utilities, car insurance, student loans, etc.

I know, I know: “Why expect a full-time job with a Humanities degree?” you ask. But that’s not the discussion I want to start today. I just want to focus on the masses for a moment.

We all know the story: for a long time now, the U.S. job market has been in the toilet. The national unemployment rate is now 8.1%, though it is ever-steadily creeping its way back up the drain, as unemployment was 9.1% just one year ago. Still, for many (especially for my post-collegiate generation), coming across full-time employment is like finding one specific needle in a stack of billions of other needles.

But you know this already.

I shouldn’t complain too much because I have a Master’s degree and employers are more likely to at least acknowledge my résumé because of this. (Well, I hope so.) But what of the Bachelor’s degree? The Associate’s? The High School Diploma? My guess: the lesser the degree, the less likely a possible employer will schedule an interview. But that’s just my guess, as I am not an HR representative of any sort.

There’s also the paradox of present life after higher education: massive student loan debts and few jobs available to actually pay them off. But that’s also not why I write today.

We’re familiar with the art of the job search: day after day, scanning the classifieds, Monster, Indeed, Craigslist, etc. for open positions; forever touching up résumés to appeal to specific job requirements; writing endless cover letters that never seem to sound quite right; applying to dozens, maybe hundreds of jobs per week; staring vacuously at the familiar monitor glow at 3 a.m.; drinking gallons of coffee/alcohol to endure the monotony of it all; going days, weeks, months, seasons without a single response; yelling violently at the cat and punching the wall in frustration; discovering ennui and permanently bathing in it.

After repeating the aforementioned process for a while, I began to wonder if all of my efforts were purely futile or if I was actually making any dents (no matter how minute). I grew thoughtful, curious, worrisome, and thoroughly impatient— all in that order. I also knew many others in my position who had suffered similar fates.

I had to find out more on where I stood in this uncertain job market. I thought that if I could figure at least a piece of that out, then maybe I could improve my job hunting techniques, and, maybe then— just maybe —an employer would actually call me back.

So I conducted an experiment: I invented a job and posted it to Craigslist.

Sure, the job didn’t exist, and you might protest, “But Eric, how cruel of you to lead all these people on!” Then I thought of the mountain range of jobs to which I had applied in the last few weeks, followed by the complete lack of correspondence from these potential employers, and then I didn’t feel so bad. I assumed that those who had applied to this non-existent position would most likely shake the experience off as just another stone in the quarry of disappointment. (If, gentle Reader, you are one of those unfortunate applicants, then I offer my sincere apologies.)

I thought of sites where I regularly search for jobs, and settled on Craigslist for this experiment, since positions are uploaded there more frequently than on any other site I usually visit. I thought of the major cities where I’ve been applying to jobs, and settled on New York, since… well, it’s New York; it’s the place to be.

I wanted to create a very basic ad: a full-time job with decent starting pay and health benefits included. I wanted to study a broad spectrum of job seekers, so I did not require any specific educational background or related experience for the position. The entirety of the ad was created using what I had seen in my own job searches: the most common job, the most common job duties, the most common pay, in the most advertised district on all of NYC’s Craigslist.

In the end, I produced this ad:

Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour.


I created a fake e-mail address to receive all of the applications. Before I published the ad, I hypothesized that I would receive a lot of résumés, and I didn’t want applicants usurping my personal inbox, especially for a non-existent position.

“A lot of résumés” is an egregious understatement.

I published the ad at exactly 2:41 P.M. on Thursday. The first response came in at 2:45—just four minutes later. Ten minutes later, there were 10 responses. Twenty minutes later, there were 56. An hour later: 164. Six hours: 431.

At 2:41 P.M. on Friday—exactly 24 hours after I posted the ad—there were 653 responses in my brand new inbox. Not wanting to face any more after that, I promptly removed the ad from Craigslist.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to gain a full perspective of who my generalized workforce competition was.

As if 653 responses in one day wasn’t enough already to knock me down the proverbial flight of stairs, I decided to sift through each and every application and record some basic statistical data—just to see what I was up against. I collected general information in two basic areas: Experience and Educational Background.

I should note that out of these 653 responses, 27 either contained an inaccessible attachment or a copy-and-paste job gone awry, so we won’t even bother with those. This leaves us with 626 résumés. One week and several pots of Café Bustelo later, I had some fancy-shmancy graphs.

I attempted to figure out how an actual HR representative might narrow this ocean of applications down to a mere puddle, and I guessed that experience would play a hefty role in the process. In the ad, I originally wrote “experience in an office setting preferred,” but while sifting through, I decided to apply “true experience” to those who had held clerical/secretarial positions before—you know, in the spirit of an Administrative Assistantship.

What surprised me the most about the above results was the number of people who had true experience as Administrative Assistants—and not just baby years, either. I additionally counted how many of these 626 applicants had five or more years of true experience: 147 (23%). And, as you can see above, 62 applicants had 10 or more years of true experience. That’s 10 percent of all applicants – much higher than I originally anticipated. A few even had 20 or more years under their belts.

Overall, 76% of applicants had previous true experience and 24% did not.

To reiterate: I am not an HR person, so I don’t know how much education weighs against experience when choosing possible employees. However, I was curious as to how many people with higher education degrees applied to this entry-level position. After all, I have a Master’s degree and I apply to these types of jobs on a daily basis.

I was a bit relieved to discover that not many folks with Master’s degrees applied (only three percent)—though, as previously mentioned, I’m not sure how much education usually factors into this process. I counted anybody with a relevant clerical/office administration certificate with the Associate’s group, since those applicants still received a higher education of some sort. What shocked me the most was the number of applicants with Bachelor’s degrees (39%), all from a wide variety of disciplines. (Maybe some of the Bachelor’s group should just obtain graduate degrees? At least this will kill two more years of job searching—so long as you don’t mind another dash of debt.)

Overall, 66% of applicants held one or more degrees/certificates in higher education and 34% held only a High School Diploma or G.E.D.


Depressed and exhausted after discovering all of this information, I drew one general mantra from this experiment, one that I could repeat to myself whenever I apply to a new open position:

“No matter how much you want this job, there are 652 other people who want it, too.”

The problem with this is that mantras are usually meant to calm one down, not bring one to tears. Another problem with this is that it’s an exaggeration. For an entry-level position such as this imaginary one, yes, there are at least 652 other aspiring employees. However, for a more specialized position, such as Full-Time English Instructor or Editorial Assistant or Professional Lobsterman, I’m sure there are far fewer résumés submitted. But I’m tired, and that’s another experiment for another day.

For now, I’ve just compiled three primary conclusions that I can offer the job-seeking public, including myself:

1.) Employers won’t notice me by my résumé alone. This one I kind of knew already, but I need to actually follow through with my lesson. Am I really going to stand out in a tidal wave of 626 applications? Probably not. What I should do is figure out methods to grab the employer’s attention, whether it’s finding out if anyone I know works with the organization, seeking out a personal recommendation, or calling to double-check that the employer received my résumé (even though we all know how daunting actual phone calls can be). I need to find additional ways to let the employer know that I am the right man for the job. Anything to make the employer say, “Ah, yes, Mr. Auld,” and not, “Oh, right, Applicant #24601.”

2.) When job searching on Craigslist, apply to positions immediately. 49 percent of responses to this non-existent position were submitted in the first three hours alone – that’s 317 emails. I know that when I apply for jobs, I like to imagine my résumé near the top of the pile; this helps me sleep at night (in addition to scotch). Because of this experiment, I’ve decided to not bother submitting to Craigslist positions that are more than one day old. As for other sites, I’ll probably discard any postings that have been up for more than one week. “But Eric, why?” you ask. Because, gentle Reader: that’s just how I roll.

3.) Expect the application review process to take a while. I repeat: 626 résumés in one day. That’s all I have to say about that.

Get a Job: The Craigslist Experiment

Find A Job – Find The Job That’s Right For You

Education Is Key – Education Is A Key To Success

gregorylnewton – Welcome to Newt1956

Jobless Recovery: 43 States Have Fewer Jobs Now Than They Did Before Recession


Three years since the recession ended, 43 states have yet to regain the jobs they lost in the downturn. The figure is a reminder of how weak the nation’s job market remains.

The states that are the furthest behind in job growth are those that were hit hardest by the housing bust: Arizona, Florida and Nevada.

Overall, the U.S. economy has 3.5 percent fewer jobs than it did before the Great Recession, which began in December 2007. The national unemployment rate has been stuck at 8.2 percent.

As slow as the recovery in jobs has been, a few states are doing quite well. Seven have more jobs now than before the recession. Some – North Dakota, Texas and Alaska – are benefiting from an oil boom.

But most states have lagged behind.

“Except for these energy-producing states, everywhere there’s still this caution in terms of hiring,” Steve Cochrane, a regional economist at Moody’s Analytics, said.

Last month, unemployment rates rose in 27 U.S. states, the most in almost a year.

Unemployment rates fell in 11 states – the fewest since August – and were unchanged in 12, the Labor Department said Friday.

Nevada had the nation’s highest unemployment rate in June at 11.6 percent. The state also had 12.4 percent fewer jobs than before the recession, the biggest percentage of jobs lost of any state.

The state is still reeling more than four years after the housing market went bust.

Nevada had the highest rate of foreclosures in the nation in the first half of 2012, according to RealtyTrac. In the first three months of the year, 61 percent of homeowners were “underwater,” or owed more on their mortgages then their homes are worth, according CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. That’s also the highest share in the nation.

Arizona has also struggled to regain the jobs it lost, with 8.2 percent fewer in June than before the recession. That’s the second-biggest loss. It had the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate in the first half of the year.

Florida had 7.8 percent fewer jobs in June than before the recession, the third-biggest decline. It had the second-highest proportion of underwater homes in the first quarter.

Nationwide, job growth slowed sharply this spring. Employers added just 75,000 a month from April through June, down from a healthy 226,000 pace in the first three months of the year.

Despite the weak job market, seven states have regained the jobs they lost during the recession.

North Dakota is by far the best. It had 15.7 percent more jobs in June than it did in December 2007. It also had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.9 percent.

The state’s oil production has soared in the past five years. Drillers have learned how to access previously unavailable oil reserves using a process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

The number of oil wells in North Dakota has doubled in the past five years, and oil production has increased fivefold.

Alaska had 3.8 percent more jobs in June than before the recession began, the second-largest gain. It has also benefited from oil production. So has Texas, which had 2.4 percent more jobs in June than before the recession, or third best.

The other states that have regained all their lost jobs are: New York, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and South Dakota. New York has seen broad-based gains in education and health care, financial services, and other professional services such as legal services and accounting.

A few states are getting close to the positive column. West Virginia and Nebraska are just a few thousand jobs short. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland are down less than 2 percent.

Economists at IHS Global Insight, a consulting firm, estimate that 8 states won’t return to their pre-recession peak employment levels until 2016 or later.

There are some encouraging signs for many of the hardest-hit states, particularly those out West.

Cochrane said that industries such as information technology and aerospace have accelerated job growth recently in states such as California, Arizona and Utah. The region is also benefiting from trade with Asia, he added.

California added 38,300 jobs in June, its second straight month of big gains.

Florida is recovering, but not as quickly, Cochrane said. Travel and tourism is growing and adding jobs. But there aren’t many other healthy industries.

Jobless Recovery: 43 States Have Fewer Jobs Now Than They Did Before Recession

Find A Job – Find The Job That’s Right For You

Find-A-Job – Find-A-Job

The African-American Unemployment Rate Rose to 14.4 Percent in June

The overall jobless rate remained steady at 8.2 percent.

By Joyce Jones

In the days leading up to the release of the June jobs report, economists feared that the month’s unemployment figure would show little change. They were right as far as the national rate is concerned. But the African-American unemployment rate rose to 14.4 percent, from 13.6 percent in May. The national rate was unchanged from 8.2 percent.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000 in the week ending June 30 to 374,000, its lowest level since mid-May. Experts often consider such drop-offs good news because they signal that there have been fewer layoffs. But pessimists say that it actually means that people have lost hope and have abandoned their job searches.

“I think it might be better than most people expect. The numbers that came out in terms of first-time jobless claims were much lower than expected, the ADP report says the economy added 76,000 more jobs than predicted and residential construction is up,” said Thomas Boston, an economist at Georgia Tech University.

He was not, however, so optimistic about the African-American unemployment figure, which he suggested could go up after last month’s “big dip.” If indeed the economy is improving, the old adage “first fired, last hired” will probably affect Black jobless numbers.

The June unemployment figure, Boston added, is very important because it will help determine whether the past three months’ disappointing numbers were a blip or a trend. A fourth consecutive month of worsening numbers, he warned, will help set the tone for the presidential election and could make the political landscape for President Obama very bumpy.

The African-American Unemployment Rate Rose to 14.4 Percent in June

Find A Job – Find The Job That’s Right For You

Jobs report: Tepid number reflects weak growth

The government said the economy added 80,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate remained at 8.2 percent. You can’t blame Americans, who are channeling their kids in the back seat of the car on a long summer road trip, begging the question, “Aren’t we there yet?”

Sadly, the answer is no, we are not there yet.

Five years ago this month, the subprime crisis began. On July 24, 2007, Countrywide Mortgage warned of “difficult conditions” and the following week, Bear Stearns liquidated two large funds that were heavily invested in subprime mortgages gone sour. While it would take most of the world six more months to realize something really bad was brewing, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that July 2007 marked a turning point.

Sure, it was hard to know at the time. After all, it was a month after the economy, as measured by GDP, grew by 3.6 percent and when the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. (An unemployment rate of 5 to 6 percent is typical of a healthy economy, so sub-5 percent was an anomaly). But Countrywide and Bear Stearns were the canaries in the coal mine and the health of those birds was clearly ailing.

Many are wondering why the economy and the jobs market are not better off five years later. The answer can be found in the seminal work on financial crises, “This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly” by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff. As the authors note, “financial crises are protracted affairs,” so we should have all been prepared for a rough and lengthy recovery.

After reviewing eight centuries of financial crises, Reinhart and Rogoff provided a map of just how long this road trip might take. On the jobs front, they said the unemployment rate rises by an average of 7 percentage points during the down phase of the cycle, which lasts 4.8 years. We actually did a little better that the average: Unemployment increased by 5.4 percentage points from July 2007, when unemployment bottomed at 4.6 percent, to the crisis high of 10 percent in October 2009. Feel better? Me neither.

The overall economy actually fared worse than the eight centuries of data from Reinhart and Rogoff. In their analysis of crises, economic output falls from (peak to trough) 9.3 percent on average and the duration of the downturn is usually two years. U.S. GDP peaked at 3.6 percent in Q2 2007 and cratered at -8.9 percent in Q4 2008, a massive 12.5 percent drop. Perhaps that’s why a majority of economists surveyed in the latest Associated Press Economy Survey expect the unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent for at least four more years.

Earlier this year, Carmen Reinhart said “Financial crises cast a long shadow,” highlighted by weak economic recoveries and persistently high unemployment. How much longer until we get there? According to Reinhart, the post-crisis shaky period usually lasts as long as the boom that preceded it. The U.S. housing boom lasted 7 years (prices doubled from 2000-2007), which means the job market will still be unhealthy 7 years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.

The answer to the question: “Jobs recovery: Are we there yet?” is a resounding, “NOT YET.”

June Jobs Report:

— Jobs created: +80,000 (May revised from +69,000 to +77,000; April revised down to 68,000 from +77,000 March: 143,000; Feb: 259,000; Jan: 275,000)

— Private sector jobs created: +84,000

— Government: -4,000

— Unemployment rate: 8.2% (unchanged)

— Under-employment rate (marginally-attached, part-time): 14.9 percent (from 14.8 percent; in 2007, the rate was 8 percent)

— Total number of unemployed: 12.7 million (unchanged)

— Long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks and over): 5.4 million representing 41.9 percent of the total unemployed

— Average workweek: 34.5 (from 34.4)

— Average hourly earnings: +$0.06 to $23.50 (up 2 percent over past 12 months)

By Jill Schlesinger

Jobs report: Tepid number reflects weak growth

Find A Job – Find The Job That’s Right For You

US unemployment claims hit 4-year low of 357K


FILE - Martina Ryberg, right, of Plymouth State University talks with Tara Rossetti of On Call International during a job fair for college students on April 4, 2012 in Manchester, N.H.  The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week, as layoffs slow and the job market strengthens. The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000. That's the fewest since April 2008. Photo: Jim Cole / AP

Martina Ryberg, right, of Plymouth State University talks with Tara Rossetti of On Call International during a job fair for college students on April 4, 2012 in Manchester, N.H. The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week, as layoffs slow and the job market strengthens. The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000. That’s the fewest since April 2008.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week, suggesting employers kept hiring in March at a healthy pace.

Weekly applications dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the fewest since April 2008.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 361,750, also the lowest in four years.

Applications have been steadily declining since last fall. The four-week average fell 4 percent in the January-March quarter, after dropping 8 percent in the final three months of last year.

When unemployment benefit applications drop consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The downward trend in applications is a promising sign ahead of Friday’s report on March job growth. Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs per month from December through February. And the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.1 percent in August to 8.3 percent in February, the lowest in three years.

Economists forecast that employers added 210,000 jobs last month, although they expect the unemployment rate was unchanged for the second straight month.

“We believe that the economy has entered a more self-sustaining phase of the recovery with stronger job creation,” said John Ryding, an analyst at RDQ Economics, in a note to clients.

Consumers are growing more confident in the economy and are stepping up spending. Many large retail chains on Thursday reported healthy sales in March.

Gap Inc., Target Corp. and Macy’s were among the retailers reporting solid gains. Overall, revenue in stores open at least one year — an indicator of a retailer’s health — rose 4.1 percent, according to a preliminary tally of 22 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Analysts said a better job market and rising stock prices are encouraging more Americans to shop. Last week the government said consumer spending jumped in February by the most in seven months.

Other data show consumers and businesses are more optimistic about the economy.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey index rose last month to its highest level since February 2011.

The service sector expanded at a healthy pace in March and stepped up hiring, according to a private survey released Wednesday by the Institute for Supply Management. A separate ISM survey of manufacturing companies found that factories also added jobs and boosted production last month.

Companies are investing more, boosting factory output. Businesses ordered more machinery, equipment and other capital goods in February, according to a government report this week.

Yet, greater hiring hasn’t led to bigger paychecks. Americans’ income grew just 0.2 percent in February, matching January’s weak increase. And after taking inflation into account, income after taxes fell for a second straight month. Consumers have boosted their spending by saving less, which economists worry isn’t sustainable.

And some companies are still letting workers go. Yahoo said Wednesday that it is cutting 2,000 jobs, or 14 percent of its work force. It is the Internet company’s sixth mass layoff in the past four years.

The number of people receiving benefits fell to 7.1 million in the week ended March 17, the latest data available. That’s about 100,000 fewer than the previous week. The figure includes about 3.3 million people receiving extended benefits under federal programs put in place during the recession.

US unemployment claims hit 4-year low of 357K

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U.S. jobless claims rise to five-week high

New applications for unemployment benefits up 8,000 to 362,000

New applications for unemployment benefits rose to the highest level in five weeks, but they remained in a range usually associated with better labor-market conditions, government data showed Thursday.

Initial claims climbed by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000 in the week ended March 3, the Labor Department said. Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 354,000 from 351,000 previously.

The level of claims is an indicator of whether layoffs are rising or falling. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had estimated claims would rise to 355,000 for last week.

On Wall Street, investors took the claims data in stride and stocks moved higher.

The four-week average of claims, meanwhile, was virtually unchanged at 355,000, which is near a four-year low. The monthly average provides a more accurate view of labor-market trends by reducing week-to-week gyrations caused by seasonal quirks.

Hiring usually picks up when applications for jobless benefits drop below 400,000, based on longstanding patterns. New applications for jobless benefits have fallen under that mark in 16 of the past 18 weeks, correlating with an increase in net U.S. job growth over that span.

“The trend for jobless claims has been a steady decline, which suggests the pace of hiring will continue to improve,” said economist Yelena Shulyatyeva of BNP Paribas.

Yet the relationship between hiring and weekly claims, which seldom drop below 300,000 even in the best of times, is somewhat loose. The government’s monthly employment report provides a much clearer picture of hiring trends.

The jobs report for February, to be issued Friday morning, is expected to show a 213,000 net increase in U.S. hiring last month. The economy added 243,000 jobs in the initial report for January, though that number will be revised. A 200,000-plus gain in February would be in keeping with recent trends.

While companies have stepped up hiring, the U.S. has a long way to go to repair the damage from the deep 2007-2009 recession. Nearly 6 million jobs that were lost during the downturn have not returned, and the unemployment rate is still high at 8.3%.

At the current rate of hiring, the jobless rate would not return to pre-recession levels of around 5% to 6% for at least three to four years.

Also Thursday, the Labor Department said continuing claims increased by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.42 million in the week ended Feb. 25. The data are reported with a one-week lag.

Continuing claims, which reflect people already receiving benefits, are handled by the states and typically last 26 weeks.

About 7.39 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Feb. 18, down 111,222 from the prior week. Total claims are not seasonally adjusted.

“Jobless claims rise to 5-week high “

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