Beyond the headlines

Posted: 6 February 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

wsj Reuters

We really need to go beyond the headlines to make sense of today’s jobs report.

The headlines are replete with “full health” and “strong” gains (in the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, respectively), based on total nonfarm payroll employment rising by 257,000 in January. But the report itself reveals not much has changed: not the official unemployment rate (5.7 percent), the number of unemployed workers (9 million), the jobless rates for different demographic groups (adult men, adult women, whites, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics), the number of long-term unemployed workers (2.8 million), and so on.

In fact, some numbers have gotten even worse—for example, the unemployment rate for teenagers (up to 18.8 percent) and the U6 unemployment rate (up to 11.3 percent).

About the only positive news is the rise in hourly earnings:

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 12 cents to $24.75, following a decrease of 5 cents in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $20.80.


Even then, from a bit longer view, there’s not much to cheer at all: average hourly earnings continue to limp along at an annual growth rate of about 2 percent, far below previous increases and much below the growth in productivity.

Looking beyond the headlines, one thing then is clear: there’s been very little recovery for the majority of people more than five years after the official end of the Great Recession.

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