Saturday, May 9, 2009

More "green shoots" - April unemployment figures?

A day after the Treaury pronounced the US banks healthy, the April unemployment figures show that US economy lost 539,000 jobs taking the unemployment rate to 8.9% and the total number of job losses since December 2007 to 5.7 million. Since the recession began, the economy has had a net loss of about 4.2% of its nonfarm payroll jobs. More interactive graphics on the unemployment figures are available here and here. Calculated Risk on the job losses here.

The unemployment rate reached 15% among African-Americans, 21.5% for teenagers, and 9.4% for adult men. It does not account for the millions of people working part-time because their hours have been cut or have failed to land full-time jobs. When those people are counted along with those who would like jobs but have given up looking, the so-called underemployment rate reached 15.8% — up from 15.6% in March and 9.2% a year earlier. Among the officially jobless, 27.2% were unemployed for more than six months, the highest figure since were kept since 1948. The report is debated here and here.

Analysts see a silver lining in the data, in that it looks good in comparison with recent months - February’s data revised to show a net reduction in jobs of 681,000, down from an initial drop of 651,000 and March revised from an initial loss of 663,000 to 699,000 - and see this decline in layoffs as sign that the worst may be over and the economy may be on the recovery path. However, the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator, having peaked more than a year after the end of the last two recessions.

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