The Bureau of Labor’s monthly job report is out and its filled with bad news. From the payroll report (the best indicator of labor health, in my opinion), we get the news that the economy dropped 533,000 jobs in November, bringing the total for the year to a loss of 1.9 million jobs. That’s the biggest one-month decline in nearly 34 years. You should also note that the number includes positive job growth in the government sector which means the private sector lost even more than 533,000.
In the Household report, we have the unemployment rate continuing its rise from 6.5% in October to 6.7% in November.
Worse yet, these numbers actually paint a rosier picture of the labor market than truly exists.
These numbers do not include people who are considered permanently unemployed or who have dropped out of the labor market. That number skyrocketed with 637,000 new people being listed as “Not In The Labor Force” under the Household Data. David Leonhardt at the NYT does exceptional work in pointing out this oft overlooked number today. However, I think he errs when he describes these people as having given up. It’s my understanding that this number also includes people who may still be looking for work but have been unemployed for so long they are simply dropped from the labor force calculations.
Another bad sign is the numbers showing that the hours being worked by those remaining in the labor force dropped. This is typically a reflection of more workers going from full-time to part-time employment and tends to reflect increased economic suffering by even those who remain employed.
This isn’t a surprise. Bad numbers were expected and the labor market has been suffering all year. What I find troubling was the dilatory response by our government in providing a stimulus package that involves massive infrastructure spending that can help the average, working men and women of this country.