In a blog I posted last month, we looked at the unemployment numbers as of the end of the month of January, and the slow crawl it was making for the better. Well, just last week, ABC News released information on the figures as of March.
The projected figures for March were 210,000 jobs added, and the rate to continue at 8.3; but the rate dropped to 8.2, with only 120,000 new jobs added. Economists say not to judge things by a month’s data, but they continue to watch the long-term trends.
Stephen Bronars, senior economist with Welch Consulting said “The labor force is not growing in size and there has been no growth in employment for workers with a high school diploma or less in the past 12 months. The jobs we have created in the past year are just enough for population growth, not enough to pull us out of the recession.”
Again, this seems to tie in with another previous blog I wrote looking at how many of the new jobs being added were lower income jobs, and are not affecting the recession effect on the nation.
The original January numbers were reported as 284,000 jobs, but was later corrected down to 275,000, while the February figures originally reported 227,000 jobs, but was later corrected to an increased figure of 275,000 jobs, which marked it as a cap on the best six-month streak since 2008. Bronars noted that these figures were affected by the mild winter, and "So the smaller change this month is partially the good weather catching up to us," he said.
The article reports this about the amount of jobless claims:
Jobless claims are now down to their lowest level in four years, after falling to 357,000 in the final week of March, the Labor Department reported Thursday in advance of the monthly jobs report. For the week ending March 31, the number of people filing for benefits dropped by 6,000. The previous week, claims stood at 363,000.The four-week average also went down, falling by 4,250 to 361,750.
While this sounds promising, Bronars claims "The biggest problem we have is not high layoffs, but low rates of hiring. There were fewer layoffs in 2011 than in any year in more than a decade. Firms had already cut their workforces in the recession and layoffs fell in the past 2 years." So while the jobless claims figure sound good, and is widely cited as good news, it can be misunderstood. As Bronars explained “in order to file new claim you had to be working, and then get laid off.” “Through the first quarter of the year we have seen 5.1 million people file for unemployment insurance benefits for the first time. We are on pace to have over 19 million first-time unemployment claims in 2012,” he said.
But honestly, for the average Joe hitting the pavement looking for a job, these numbers do not mean as much until it directly affects them. These figures are nice for the economists, but unless it shows a major turnaround, and not just the slow creeping progress it seems to be, it doesn’t help as much with finding a job.