A First Look at the Job Market in the New Year: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Protesters block road to protest factory closure in Moline, IL. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

The following article, by Masao Suzuki, is from Fight Back! News:

San Bruno, CA – On Feb. 5 the Department of Labor released their report on the January 2010 job market. The good news in the report was that the official unemployment rate fell from 10.0% in December to 9.7% in January. This is the biggest drop in the unemployment rate since the recession began in December 2007.

There was also a fair amount of bad news in the jobs report. Some 20,000 payroll jobs were lost in January, and the job loss in December was revised up to 150,000 jobs. There was an increase of 52,000 temporary jobs in January, which means that 72,000 permanent jobs were lost.

Despite the overall drop in the official unemployment rate, the unemployment rate for African Americans increased from 16.2% in December to 16.5% in January. This is twice the rate of white workers and is the highest unemployment rate for Blacks in the United States since 1984.

There were two parts of the jobs report that can be considered downright ugly. The first is that the total number of jobs lost in the recession was revised up by a million, to a total of more than 8.4 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. Even if the economy recovers and jobs are added at the same rate as the 2001-2007 business expansion (which was aided by the housing boom), it would take more than seven years just to restore all the jobs lost in the recession.

The other ugly part of the jobs report was the continued rise in long-term unemployment. In January, more than 6.3 million people had been out of work for six months or more. This number has risen by 5 million since the recession began. With so many people out of work and so few job openings, it is taking an average of 30 weeks for jobless workers to find work or give up looking altogether.

One of the things even uglier than the job market is the lack of action by the U.S. Senate. Right now the extended federal unemployment insurance benefit program for the long-term unemployed will expire this month. If the Senate does not act to renew extended federal benefits, more than one million jobless workers will lose their benefits in March. This number will rise to five million by June.

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