In my previous article, Why You Should Live Off 50-75% of Your Income, I made a point that I should have expanded on. When discussing what economic indicators I thought were meaningless, I said:
“The fall in the unemployment rate doesn’t mean much to me either. The high-paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced by low-paying service jobs. In my opinion, this problem will only get worse.”
Diving Into The Numbers
A lot of people played up the fall in the unemployment rate from 7.9% to 7.7% as a sign that the economy is improving. I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists that believes all government numbers are fudged, but I think the media can do with them what they want.
Therefore, I am going to give you some numbers straight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and you can formulate your own thoughts:
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.8 million in November. These individuals accounted for 40.1 percent of the unemployed.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 8.2 million in November, was little changed over the month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
Among the marginally attached, there were 979,000 discouraged workers in November, little changed from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.
Retail trade employment rose by 53,000 in November and has increased by 140,000 over the past 3 months. Over the month, job gains occurred in clothing and clothing accessory stores (+33,000), in general merchandise stores (+10,000), and in electronics and appliance stores (+9,000).
In November, employment in professional and business services rose by 43,000. Employment continued to increase in computer systems design and related services.
Employment in construction declined by 20,000 in November, with much of the loss occurring in construction of buildings (-11,000). Since early 2010, employment in construction has shown no clear trend.
Manufacturing employment changed little over the month. Within the industry, job losses in food manufacturing (-12,000) and chemicals (-9,000) more than offset gains in motor vehicles and parts (+10,000) and wood products (+3,000). On net, manufacturing employment has changed little since this past spring.
Readers: What do you make of the unemployment figures?