Friday, March 6, 2009

Employment Down -651,000

From the BLS:

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to fall sharply in February (-651,000), and the unemployment rate rose from 7.6 to 8.1 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Payroll employment has declined by 2.6 million in the past 4 months. In February, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major industry sectors.


The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 270,000 to 2.9 million in February. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed was up by 1.6 million. (See table A-9.)


In February, the number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose by 787,000, reaching 8.6 million. The number of such workers rose by 3.7 million over the past 12 months. This category includes persons who would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-5.)


About 2.1 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attached to the labor force in February, 466,000 more than a year earlier. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 731,000 discouraged workers in February, up by 335,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in February had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding
the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-13.)


Total nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 651,000 in February. Since the recession began in December 2007, about 4.4 million jobs have been lost, with more than half (2.6 million) of the decrease occurring in the last 4 months. In February, employment declined in most major industry sectors, with the largest losses occurring in professional and business services, manufacturing, and construction. Health care continued to add jobs over the month. (See table B-1.)

Let's break this information down.

1.) The best read of job growth for the last expansion is a total of 8.2 million jobs created. 2.6 million jobs were lost in the last 4 months, or 31%. Since the recession began, we've lost 4.4 million jobs or 53%. There is no way to spin those numbers as anything except terrible.

2.) The number of people who worked part-time for economic reasons increased by 787,000. That's also a ton of people. That number has increased by 3.7 million over the last 12 months -- also a ton of people. That facts tells us two relevant data points. First, businesses are still cutting back sharply. Secondly, there is probably at least one more month of horrible job losses in the works; that number is simply too high for there not to be another serious round of job losses coming down the pike.

3.) Year over year, the unemployment rate of service occupations has increased from 6.7% to 9.1% the unemployment rate of natural resources, construction and maintenance has increased from 9.1% to 17.7% and the unemployment rate of production, transportation and material employment has increased from 6.6% to 13.1%.

4.) Hours worked is decreasing across a wide swath of industries.

Simply put, this is an incredibly ugly report.