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Employment Numbers Better Than Expected, But Still Terrible


Increase in long-term unemployment, involuntary workers is particularly troubling.


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The following is a free edition of The Lavery Insight.

In its establishment survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) headline number this morning is a decline of 539,000 in non-farm payroll employment in April. While that number is less than expectations, the level of employment was effectively 66,000 lower, i.e., down 605,000. This is because of revisions in the employment declines for March and February.

The March employment decline was revised to 699,000 from 663,000 previously estimated by the BLS. And, the payroll employment decline was worsened in February as well, now at 681,000, rather than the 651,000 previously estimated.

The unemployment rate jumped from 8.5% in March to 8.9% in April in the release from the BLS today. Since December 2007, the starting point for the current recession, the most severe since the Depression, job losses total 5.7 million.

The level of private-sector employment fell by 611,000 workers in April. In its household survey, the incidence of unemployment rose 563,000 to 13.72 million. On a year-over-year (YoY) basis, the number of people unemployed has escalated by 6.0 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 3.9 percentage points.

Counted among those unemployed, persons who completed temporary jobs and other job losses grew by 571,000 to 8.8 million. This group has more than doubled in the past 12 months.

Particularly troubling, the long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) rose by 498,000 in April, reaching 3.7 million. This category has surged by 2.4 million since the recession began, i.e., in December 2007, this category was 1.3 million. So the long-term unemployed as a group has almost tripled since the recession started.
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