According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s monthly report, in September, 2009 the national unemployment rate stood at 9.8%, an increase of a tenth of a percent from the month before:
Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline in September (-263,000), and the unemployment rate (9.8 percent) continued to trend up, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The largest job losses were in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and government.
Household Survey Data
Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 7.6 million to 15.1 million, and the unemployment rate has doubled to 9.8 percent. (See table A-1.)
The job cuts in construction were the most serious:
In September, construction employment declined by 64,000. Monthly job losses averaged 66,000 from May through September, compared with an average of 117,000 per month from November to April. September job cuts were concentrated in the industry’s nonresidential components (-39,000) and in heavy
construction (-12,000). Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.5 million.
In my view that’s strong evidence that the spending in the $787 billion stimulus package should have been concentrated more in 2009.
The only bright light in the employment picture is healthcare:
Employment in health care continued to increase in September (19,000), with
the largest gain occurring in ambulatory health care services (15,000). Health care has added 559,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession, although the average monthly job gain thus far in 2009 (22,000) is down from the average monthly gain during 2008 (30,000).
With such a high proportion of the healthcare sector being in the form of tax dollars in one form or another (at least 50%), one can only wonder if growth in this sector is sustainable.
We’re going to have to wait for the state-by-state breakdown.
Since this marks the end of the 3rd quarter, I’m sure there will be plenty of other economic news today and I’ll be reporting on it as time allows.
Dean Baker, quoted in the New York Times, expresses the same concern that I have about current economic conditions:
“People have been celebrating that we’re through the financial crisis, but the underlying issues are all still there,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “We’ve lost trillions of dollars in housing wealth, and consumption’s going to be weak. It’s not the ’30s, but there’s really nothing to boost the economy.”
To boost the economy we’re going to need real private business growth and for real private business growth we’re going to need confidence in the financial system, confidence in the economy, and confidence that neither the Fed nor the Congress is about to pull the rug out from under us. I don’t see any of those things right now.