When I opened up the August 2011 unemployment report this morning, I knew the news was not good based on the first sentence. The sentence reads, “Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.” That’s right, the handful of jobs that were created during the month were offset by layoffs and so we made no progress towards resolving the unsteady economy last month.
Part-time unemployment jumped to 8.8 million last month, up from 8.4 million. These individuals work part-time for economic reasons, in other words they have chosen part-time employment because they can’t find full-time work or because their full-time hours were reduce.
Although no new jobs were added during the month, this is a net figure. New jobs were created in several industries including health care (+30,000), mining (+6,000) and computer systems design (+8,000).
These gains were offset by losses in other industries including a loss of 48,000 jobs in the information industry. However, 45,000 of these jobs were in the telecommunications sector, which faced a significant strike during the month. When an employee is on strike they are not part of a company’s payroll record and thus considered unemployed.
Even if the telecommunications sector data was removed from the report, the August 2011 unemployment situation was still rather dismal. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs need to be created each month in order to make a dent in this 9.0+ percent unemployment rate. How these new jobs will be created will soon be a hot topic of conversation in Washington, D.C.