August’s Unemployment Research Notes

by Jim Baird on September 3, 2010

Given the economic soft patch that has been apparent in recent months, the uptick in the unemployment rate is not a surprise.

The decline in the jobless rate in recent months was largely a result of discouraged workers throwing in the towel on looking for a job.  That trend actually reversed in August, with over a half million individuals re-commencing their job searches. 

Despite the rising unemployment rate, the news is not all bad.  The positive trends that remain in place are that average weekly hours worked and hourly earnings continue to slowly improve.  Moreover, the private sector is creating jobs, which is a far cry from the losses that were occurring at this point a year ago.

The economy is slowing, and appears to be nearing a crossroads.  It is too soon to determine whether a trip down the path toward a double dip recession is inevitable or if that outcome will be avoided.

Payrolls continue to be added in the private sector, but at a painfully slow pace.  Companies remain in a preservation mode and have continued to seek out alternative ways of increasing production.

The bad news for jobseekers is that whether the economy continues to grow at a lackluster pace or slips into contraction, there is little reason to expect a massive increase in the pace of job creation in the absence of robust economic growth.

Assuming that the economy doesn’t surprise virtually everyone and really take off, it will take years to regain the more than 8 million jobs that have been lost since the beginning of 2008.

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