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June 3 2011

(Not) Workin' 9 to 5

Nicole Kurokawa Neily

The May 2011 job numbers are out! And they’re… awful. 

The unemployment rate has risen to 9.1% from 9.0%; however, underemployment – the figure that includes broader measure of unemployment, which captures those marginally employed or working part-time or trying to find better work fell – is actually 15.8%. And who’s suffering the most? Teenagers (24.2%) and minorities (blacks at 16.2% and Hispanics at 11.9%). 

According to the Department of Labor, the private sector added 83,000 jobs (way down from 3 month average of 244,000) – but federal, state, and local governments cut 29,000 jobs – so non-farm payrolls grew by only 54,000 in May. 

That number – 54,000 jobs – is well below most economists’ expectations, and the fewest number added in 8 months. Of course, adding that many jobs is better than losing jobs… but to place these numbers in perspective, the economy must add approximately 150-200,000 jobs per month to keep pace with the growing working population. In addition, the labor force grew by 272,000 – so more people are looking for work, too. 

The total number of unemployed Americans is now 13.9 million; of those, 6.2 million are long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) – an increase of 361,000. This means a full 45.1% of the unemployed have been out of work for 6 months or more. It’s also worth noting that the average duration of unemployment rose to 39.7 weeks from 38.3 (it was at 39.0 weeks in March). 

But that’s not the only bad news in today’s report: employment data for March and April have also been revised downward – meaning the number of jobs added in April was actually 232,000 (not 244,000 as originally predicted = 12,000 fewer) and the number of jobs added in March was actually 194,000 (not 221,000 as originally predicted  = 27,000 fewer).

Who’d have thought spending all that money on a stimulus bill that would keep unemployment below 8%, and a health care bill that would create “4 million jobs – 400,000 almost immediately” wouldn’t work? 

Oh right. Everyone

(Side note: the Department of Labor said last month’s weather did not affect these numbers, so that’s not an excuse.)

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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