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Unemployment drops to 9.7 percent, employers shed jobs

|Mar 11|magazine4 min read

News on the unemployment/jobs front seems to have taken the manta: one step forward, two steps back. A government report released on Friday indicated the unemployment rate in the US fell from 10 percent to 9.7 percent. Good news right? Well technically yes, but technically no.

The number dropped because the number of employed Americans rose by approximately 541,000. However, a separate report said nonfarm payrolls fell by 20,000 and had a revised 150,000 decline in December. It also showed there were 930,000 fewer jobs in March than previously reported and added another 433,000 job losses from April to October.

What this basically means is 2009 was a lot worse than we realize. The report indicates the “Great Recession” has shed a total of 8.4 million jobs, the most since World War II as a proportion of total payrolls. January’s job losses were actually the best numbers, other than November’s small gain, since the recession begin.

The job loss report also does not account for people who have been unemployed so long they are no longer looking, or people who are part time. Thus many economists say the numbers of true unemployed are actually a lot worse than this report indicates.

As far as certain industries are concerned, construction and warehousing saw decreases. However, the good news is manufacturing and retail, two key sectors (esp. the former), showed increases in employment. It was the first time since 2006 that jobs in manufacturing were increased. Healthcare and federal government jobs were also increased in January.

More on this report here