Today’s Jobs Report: A Note of Caution

Today’s jobs report was the best in a long time, thank goodness. But a friend on the Hill points out some facts that shed light on the broader issues that are still very much with us:

Today’s report shows increasing strength in the jobs market. June employment (according to the survey of businesses) rose by 288,000 jobs. The BLS revised their April jobs estimate from 282,000 to 304,000 and their May from 217,000 to 224,000. The unemployment rate fell from 6.3 to 6.1 percent.

That said, there are a few dark spots in this otherwise strong jobs report:

* The number of people aged 16 years and above who are not in the labor force increased by 111,000 this past month. While a somewhat lower increase than in months past, it still outpaces forecasted retirements.

* The number of people taking part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work increased by 275,000 this past month.

* In fact, the number of people employed full-time (according to the household survey that also counts self-employed) declined by 523,000 while the number of part-time workers increased by 799,000 (which includes those who wanted part-time and those who wanted full-time but could only find part-time). These estimates are seasonally adjusted to account for the normal increase in June part-time work.

* The U-6 unemployment rate (the broadest measure of unemployment) remains virtually unchanged at 12.1 percent. U-6 includes those people who are discouraged, only occasionally trying to find work, and those employed part-time for economic reasons.

In addition, of course, incomes remain flat. Economic growth continues to be anemic, and as long as that is the case, neither jobs nor incomes will rebound to satisfactory levels.

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