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Friday, August 07, 2009

The good news is that employment is falling more slowly

The BLS released the employment situation report for July this morning, and it's full of half-good news.

*Employment declined by only 247,000 jobs--the smallest decline since last October. (July was, however, the 19th consecutive month of employment declines, and the total employment is now 6.6 million lower than in December 2007.)

*The unemployment rate fell (by a statistically insignificant 0.1 percentage point) from 9.5% to 9.4%. (This is the first decline in the unemployment rate since February 2008.)

*Average weekly hours (of production workers) rose to 33.1 hours from 33.0 hours. (This is also the first increase since February 2008. Longer-term, average weekly hours continues its secular decline; since the early 1960s, average weekly hours have dropped by about 1 hour per decade, as part-time work has become a more prominent feature of our economy.)

*However, employment losses were widespread across industeies (construction, manufacturing, financial services, retail trade, transportation, and professional and business services all lost jobs. Health care continues to be a bright spot, adding 22,000 jobs.

So a better report than the past six.

Let's hope the rate of improvement accelerates.


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