#561 – Some Recent Facts and Figures

Posted on | The Agurban

Some Recent Facts and Figures …

We always like to read the good news. Unfortunately, this week we found a lot of bad news. But we remain optimistic that this, too, shall pass, and better days will prevail.  

The US economy added 211,000 jobs in November, according to figures released on Friday by the Department of Labor. Official unemployment remained at 5 percent, while average wages for hourly private sector employees grew by a miserly 0.2 percent to $25.25 an hour. Wages are up 2.3 percent from one year ago, less than the increase in the cost of living.

Construction employment rose by 46,000, while lower-paid sectors continued to predominate, including retail (30,700) and professional services (27,000). The mining sector lost more than 11,000 jobs, coming to a decrease of more than 123,000 since last December.

The report also pointed to the continued crisis in manufacturing, which saw a slight loss of over 1,000 jobs. Today, there are 4.7 million less manufacturing jobs located within the United States than before the 2008 financial collapse.

Earlier this week, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its index of manufacturing activity had fallen to 48.6 in November, with a figure below 50 indicating contraction. The manufacturing index is now at its lowest levels since 2009, at the depth of the post-2008 recession.

The labor force participation rate, a more accurate measure of US employment than the official unemployment rate, remained virtually static, ticking upward from the nearly 40-year low of 62.4 to 62.5 percent of the population. The employment-population ratio remained where it was a month ago at 59.3 percent. The report notes that the latter statistic has remained virtually unchanged since October 2014.

The US economy has averaged the creation of 210,000 jobs per month throughout 2015. This amount is nearly identical to the 199,000 monthly jobs averaged during 2013 and less than 2014’s monthly average of 260,000.

These numbers are significantly lower than periods of job growth during past economic recoveries. They are also in line with the growth in the labor force, explaining the fact that real unemployment remains at near-record lows.