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Nationwide unemployment rate drops slightly to 8.1 percent, monthly job gains slow in 2012

September 7, 2012

Online Staff Report

One day after President Barack Obama touted job creation in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Sept. 7 that employment rose by 96,000 jobs in August and the unemployment rate edged down to 8.1 percent.

Since the beginning of this year, the nationwide unemployment rate has held in a narrow range of 8.1 to 8.3 percent. The number of unemployed people, at 12.5 million, was little changed in August.

Employment increased in food services and drinking places, in professional and technical services, and in health care.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.6 percent), adult women (7.3 percent), teen-agers (24.6 percent), whites (7.2 percent), blacks (14.1 percent) and Hispanics (10.2 percent) showed little or no change in August.

The jobless rate for Asians was 5.9 percent, little changed from a year earlier.

In August, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5 million. These individuals accounted for 40 percent of the unemployed.

Both the civilian labor force (154.6 million) and the labor force participation rate (63.5 percent) declined in August. The employment-population ratio, at 58.3 percent, was little changed.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 8 million in August. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In August, 2.6 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. 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 four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 844,000 discouraged workers in August, a decline of 133,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 million people marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 96,000 in August. Since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 139,000 per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.

Employment in food services and drinking places increased by 28,000 in August and by 298,000 over the past 12 months.

Employment in professional and technical services rose in August (plus 27,000). Job gains occurred in computer systems design and related services (plus 11,000) and management and technical consulting services (plus 9,000).

Health care employment rose by 17,000 in August. Ambulatory health care services and hospitals added 14,000 and 6,000 jobs, respectively. From June through August, job growth in health care averaged 15,000 per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 28,000 in the prior 12 months.

Utilities employment increased in August (plus 9,000). The increase reflects the return of utility workers who were off payrolls in July because of a labor-management dispute.

Within financial activities, finance and insurance added 11,000 jobs in August. Employment in wholesale trade continued to trend up. Employment in temporary help services changed little over the month and has shown little movement, on net, since February.

Manufacturing employment edged down in August (minus 15,000). A decline in motor vehicles and parts (minus 8,000) partially offset a gain in July. Auto manufacturers laid off fewer workers for factory retooling than usual in July, and fewer workers than usual were recalled in August.

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, construction, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in August. The manufacturing workweek declined by 0.2 hour to 40.5 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours.

In August, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 1 cent to $23.52. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings rose by 1.7 percent. In August, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down by 1 cent to $19.75.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from plus 64,000 to plus 45,000, and the change for July was revised from plus 163,000 to plus 141,000.

Rockford’s unemployment rate, 11.8 percent, was the highest of the state’s metro areas in July. August unemployment rates for the state’s metro areas will be released Thursday, Sept. 27.

The state unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in July. The state’s August unemployment rate will be announced Thursday, Sept. 20.

Posted Sept. 7, 2012

One Comment

  1. Wallach

    September 8, 2012 at 2:22 am

    The drop in unemployment is good news, but the rot in the US economy is many decades in the making, and absolutely nothing will reverse it now. Nothing. The underlying structural problems in the US employment system- too much outsourcing, H1-B abuse and long-term job availability- are basically built-in from more than 30 years of elite mismanagement.

    The only effective solution to the unemployment and economic crisis in Illinois (and the nation) is massive emigration from the United States to other countries- same thing many of our ancestors did centuries ago, but this time in the reverse direction. It’s fantasy to think that just switching out politicians would solve this disaster in the midst of such decades-long structural weakness, and there is absolutely nothing at this point that can boost major US job growth anymore. The country’s policies have already sent out most sources of real job growth overseas, and the trend’s only accelerating – our oil’s used up, our manufacturing industries shipped out, now even our service and hi-tech industries are disappearing as engineering and computer industries are totally shipped out (outsourcing and H1-B visas). So the jobs picture in the US is only going to get much, much worse in the next decade.

    The picture’s very different elsewhere. There are some European countries (like Ireland, Britain and of course Greece) in even worse shape than the US. But most countries in the heart of Europe are very strong, mainly because they’ve kept their manufacturing and hi-tech with a lower cost of living, among other things. Germany for example is the biggest exporter after China, even though it has about 5% of China’s population and barely a drop of oil, with massive opportunities for emigrating Americans in terms of jobs, starting businesses and getting patents (and without the crippling costs of college and health care that are ruining the US). Same pattern for other core countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, or much of France to name a few – solid economies with better long-term planning.

    European countries are not immigrant nations like the US, so you really need to demonstrate ancestry in those countries to move there. But the good news is that millions of Americans have for example northern European ancestry (whether Dutch, German, Anglo-Saxon or Irish) and can get settling permits in resilient economies like Germany, or often citizenship straight-out in those countries. While even people with ancestry in the weakened countries (like Greece, Britain or Ireland and Italy) can still move to the stronger countries like the Netherlands, France or Germany, based on the cross-border rules there. You can pick up most of the language when you get there – they help you with that, and German’s a big help everywhere.

    Don’t believe the hype that taxes are higher in Europe, they aren’t in part because they don’t have so many tiers of taxes as in the US, plus nowhere near the health care, insurance and education costs, so it’s much easier to raise a family, start a business and thus in a place like the Netherlands or France or Sweden. (My family’s settled in Belgium and the Netherlands, picked up German, French, Dutch – much easier to raise kids and get a business going especially in the small cities or surprisingly in some of the bigger ones like Rotterdam, Ghent or Leiden.) You also don’t have to worry about affirmative action or similar obstacles causing so many problems (very different history in Europe), plus gun owners are respected well in the core countries. You don’t even need fancy education or things like an engineering degree (though it can certainly help), just be willing to work hard, respect the laws, contribute to the society in whatever you do whether it’s a plumber, mechanic, blue-collar worker or whatever else, especially if you start businesses, get patents or do other things that produce jobs there.

    Besides the heart of Europe, there are other good places to emigrate to, like in Asia (HK, Taiwan, Korea for example), and even many countries in S America and thereabouts (Chile, Panama, Nicaragua, even portions of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay for example). In general the best place to work and raise a family is no longer the US with all the crippling structural problems we have here, instead it’s overseas, either in the center of Europe or in those parts of Asia and S America. Use whatever savings you have (or don’t have), sell what assets you can, and make the move while at least the dollar is still worth something.

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