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Unemployment rate down a tad, but that’s still good news

Unemployment dropped slightly in July, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor Friday, but of course even the slight decline, from 9.5 percent in June to 9.4 percent in July, was big news in that the decrease was the first in more than a year.

The drop was also two-tenths of a point below the 9.6 percent figure that economists surveyed by had projected.

A look inside the numbers:

– The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose by 584,000 over the month to 5.0 million. In July, 1 in 3 unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more.

– The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in July at 8.8 million. The number of such workers rose sharply in the fall and winter but has been little changed for 4 consecutive months.

– About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in July, 709,000 more than a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals, who 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 796,000 discouraged workers in July, up by 335,000 over the past 12 months. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in July had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

– Employment in construction declined by 76,000 in July, about in line with the average for the past three months (-73,000). Employment had decreased by 117,000 a month on average from November to April.

– Manufacturing employment fell by 52,000 in July and has declined by 2.0 million since the recession began. In motor vehicles and parts, fewer workers than usual were laid off in July for seasonal retooling. As a result, the estimate of employment for the industry rose by 28,000 after seasonal adjustment. In large part, July’s seasonally-adjusted increase reflects the fact that previous job cuts had been so extensive that there were fewer workers to lay off during the seasonal shutdown. Elsewhere in manufacturing, several industries continued to lose jobs in July, including machinery (-15,000) and fabricated metal products (-14,000).

– In July, retail trade employment declined by 44,000. Job losses in the industry had averaged 27,000 per month over the prior three months. Employment in wholesale trade fell by 19,000 in July, with the majority of the decline occurring among durable goods wholesalers.

– Health care employment increased by 20,000 in July, about in line with the average monthly gain for the first half of this year but down from an average monthly increase of 30,000 during 2008. Employment in leisure and hospitality has been little changed over the past three months.

augusta free press news
augusta free press news