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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

July 3, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Real improvement on jobs, but a long way to go

Today’s report that the economy added a seasonally adjusted 288,000 jobs in June means that the “jobs gap” created by the enormous drop in demand and employment, combined with growth in the labor force, could be filled by early 2017. As daunting as that sounds, it’s better than we’ve seen since the end of the recession. Better, with revisions, the jobs growth has been relatively strong all year — an average 272,000 per month in the second quarter.

A few other observations. The labor force participation rate was unchanged over the past three months, as a startlingly low level compared with recent decades…

LFPRfredgraph

…While some of this is because of retiring baby boomers, other causes include long-term unemployment and discouraged workers. With demand still so low, made worse by federal austerity, employers are in no hurry to hire. So while the “official” unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1 percent, the U-6 rate — including discouraged workers and part-timers wanting full-time work, remains very high, at 12.1 percent…

U6fredgraph

…Also note that the part-time labor force, which skyrocketed with the downturn, remains extremely high. The number of involuntary part-time workers actually increased 275,000 (admittedly a volatile number on a monthly basis):

PARTtimefredgraph

With those caveats, June and the first half have seen a pickup in hiring. Whether it can be sustained, especially five years into the recovery, is a different question. Also, whether these are good quality jobs. So far, most haven’t been.

Thursday Reading: Trans-Pacific Partnership meeting moved from Vancouver to Ottawa, ducking critics | Boing Boing

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Yellen won’t use rates

To keep bubbles from blowing

The punch bowl stays put

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment


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