Friday, December 03, 2004

No Joy in Job-ville

Our "robust recovery" keeps right on rolling. Unless you're a member of the Reality Based Community, that is. The Wall Street Journal (subscription) says job growth wasn't so great last month:

U.S. employers sharply slowed the pace of hiring in November, surprising Wall Street and rekindling worries about the strength of the economic recovery.

Nonfarm payrolls grew by only 112,000 jobs last month after a revised 303,000 increase in October, the Labor Department said Friday. That was the weakest gain in five months, and well short of the 200,000 jobs economists had expected, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC. Just before the report was released, traders were pegging the increase at 220,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell a tenth of a percentage point to a three-month low of 5.4%, as expected.

In its revision, the government said employers created 54,000 fewer jobs in September and October than previously thought. Employers added 119,000 jobs in September and 303,000 in October, down from previous estimates of 139,000 and 337,000, respectively.

Economists say the economy needs to generate at least 125,000 jobs a month just to keep up with new entrants into the work force. The average since August of 2003, when employers resumed hiring after a long slump, has been slightly above that threshold at 152,000.
And don't be fooled by that dropping unemployment rate number, many economists feel that's due to people just giving up looking for work right now. So, if you got a job, hold onto it like a lifesaver in rough seas. And if you're wondering why it seems like your income just isn't keeping up with costs these days, you're not imagining things:

Average hourly earnings rose one cent to $15.83 in November. In annual terms, earnings increased 2.4%. The average work week shrank for the first time since August, declining six minutes to 33.7 hours.
With anything related to petroleum rising at double digit rates and many food items going up that 2.4% increase is, in reality, a pay cut.

Oh, and don't those extra six minutes every week really feel good?

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