Lousy Numbers: Just 69,000 New Jobs in May; Unemployment Back Up to 8.2%
FlaglerLive | June 1, 2012
Last Updated: 8:54 a.m.
Bad numbers all around for the American economy in May, hinting at recession: the unemployment rate crept back up to 8.2 percent, from 8.1 percent in April. Just 69,000 jobs were created, the lowest number in a year. And March and April job-creation numbers were revised downward, from 269,000 new jobs to 220,000–a decrease of 49,000.
The souring numbers are bad news for an economy that appears to be heading into worse headwinds–from a crumbling Euro-zone economy to a significant slowdown in the Chinese economy, both big export markets for American goods.
There were 12.7 million unemployed Americans in May, though the labor force participation increased by 0.2 percent, to 63.8 percent, offsetting a decline of the same amount in April. Labor force participation is an indication of workers’ mood about the economy: the more workers think they have a chance at getting a job, the likelier they are to rejoin the labor force. But there can also be a lag between workers’ mood and job-market reality: the economy was doing much better in winter. It began souring in spring.
Other indicators suggest a darkening of economic conditions. The number of workers employed part-time against their will–because they could not find full-time work or because their hours were cut back–rose to 8.1 million, and the total proportion of unemployed or under-employed workers, including those who have quit looking for work, is 14.8 percent, a sharp rise from April’s 14.5 percent.
Health care employment continued to increase in May, by 33,000. Transportation and warehousing added 36,000 jobs. Employment in wholesale trade rose by 16,000, and manufacturing added 12,000.
Construction employment declined by 28,000, especially among specialty trade contractors and in heavy and civil engineering construction, as government projects have slowed down considerably. Employment in professional and business services, in mining and logging, retail trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little in May.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in May. The manufacturing workweek declined by 0.3 hour to 40.5 hours. Factory overtime declined by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls edged up by 2 cents to $23.41, increasing 1.7 percent in the past 12 months–not enough to keep up with cost-of-living increases in energy, health care and food costs.
[This is a developing story. More soon.]