Jobs and Careers

Jobs Rise, Yet Unemployment Remains at 9.6%

| by AFL-CIO

Jobs increased by 151,000 in October and the unemployment rate remained the same as last month, at 9.6 percent, according to U.S. Department of Labor data out this morning. Other positive news: the

unexpectedly modest jobs loss in state and local government, although economists say job losses in this sector will likely worsen in future months because of state and local budget challenges.

The increase is a significant jump from September, when 95,000 jobs were lost, and represents the minimum number of jobs needed to be created each month to keep up with the increase in new job applicants. But to lower the nation’s unemployment rate to 6 percent by 2013, the economy needs to add 350,000 jobs a month.

Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

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Tuesday’s election results and today’s jobs numbers are a clarion call to the next Congress that job creation and fixing our economy must be the number one priority. With the unemployment rate stagnant at 9.6 percent, it’s no wonder people are angry, frustrated and disappointed. Despite a welcome increase of 151,000 jobs in October, nearly 15 million Americans are still unemployed. The unemployment rate has been essentially unchanged since May.

Employment in construction, wholesale trade, transportation, information and financial services were little changed in October, while health care added 24,000 jobs, retail added 28,000,  food services, 24,000 and mining, 8,000. Manufacturing lost 7,000 jobs.

The number of workers who are underemployed, which includes those who are too discouraged to look for work or are working part-time out of economic necessity, remained nearly the same at 17 percent in October from 17.1 percent in September. Overall, more than 26 million U.S. workers are without jobs or full-time work.

Long-term joblessness continues to be a crisis, with 6.2 million long-term unemployed workers, those jobless for six months or more. Nearly 42 percent of unemployed workers have been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

In addition to the unemployment data, a look at the percentage of jobs lost underscores the severity of the nation’s joblessness. The Economic Policy Institute offers a map that shows the percentage of jobs each state has lost since December 2007, the start of the recession. Although the recession officially ended in June of 2009, all states except Alaska, North Dakota and the District of Columbia continue to see a jobs deficit.

While corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash, not creating jobs, a majority of Americans now say they are worried about making their mortgage or rent payments, with worry twice as high among those with household incomes of less than $30,000 as it is among those with annual incomes of $75,000 or more, according to a recent Washington Post poll.

Wall Street refuses to create jobs but , it’s  but in an article aptly titled, “Wall Street Gets Its Groove Back, and Big Pay, Too,” the New York Times yesterday writes that overall compensation in financial services will rise 5 percent this year, with employees in some businesses like asset management getting increases of 15 percent. The article goes on to note that “One does not have to look far to see that Wall Street has found its stride again.”

John DeLucie, the chef and one of the owners of The Lion restaurant, one of Greenwich Village’s newest hot spots, said business had been surprisingly strong since it opened in May.

Customers are buying vintage bottles of wine; the restaurant recently sold a 1982 Château Mouton Rothschild for $3,950. “We are seeing a lot of luxury purchases, like vintage Bordeaux, things that we haven’t seen sell well in a few years,” Mr. DeLucie said.

Imagine how far the cost of one bottle of  “vintage wine” could go to feed a family whose breadwinner/s can’t find a job.

When voters cast their ballots Nov. 2, the vast majority put jobs and the economy at the top of their concerns. An exit poll survey found voters strongly back many of the economic proposals the AFL-CIO and most Democrats have called for and want Congress to invest money in job creation and help for the unemployed. Voters say they want:

-- A major job creation tax credit for business to create jobs in the United States
-- Job creation by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure of roads, bridges, schools and energy systems.
-- Job investment to maintain U.S. competitiveness with China, India and Germany.
-- Federal unemployment insurance benefits extended for those who have lost their jobs and are unable to find new ones.

Unemployment insurance benefits are currently set to expire November 30, unless Congress acts to extend it. And it’s essential Congress act when lawmakers get back this month. Extending unemployment insurance benefits through 2011 would create or save some 488,000 payroll jobs, according to EPI researchers Heidi Shierholz and Lawrence Mishel. The extension would also generate more than 12 million weekly work hours for those who already have jobs, which means that extending benefits would support a total of 723,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

America’s voters want jobs. Now Congress needs to do its job.