Statement by Chad Stone, Chief Economist, On The October Employment Report

For Immediate Release

Statement by Chad Stone, Chief Economist, On The October Employment Report

WASHINGTON - The weakness in the economy showed up
with a vengeance in today's employment report.  As unemployment
continues to rise, the percentage of Americans with a job is at its
lowest level since 1993 and more than one in five of the unemployed has
been looking for work for at least 27 weeks.

  • Private and
    government payrolls combined have now shrunk for 10 straight months,
    and net job losses so far this year total 1.2 million.  (Private sector
    payrolls alone have shrunk for 11 straight months, with a cumulative
    loss of 1.3 million jobs.)
  • The net private
    and government job losses of 240,000 jobs in October and 284,000 jobs
    in September are each larger in any month since November 2001, the
    trough of the last recession.
  • The official
    unemployment rate jumped from 6.1 percent to 6.5 percent in October,
    and other indicators show even greater labor market weakness. 
  • The percentage of the population with a job (61.8 percent) is at its lowest level since 1993. 
  • The Labor
    Department's most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure -
    which includes people who want to work but are discouraged from looking
    and people working part time because they can't find full-time jobs -
    stood at 11.8 percent in October, up 3.0 percentage points so far this
    year and the highest level since January 1994.
  • Well over one in
    every five (22.3 percent) of the 10.1 million unemployed has not been
    able to find a job despite looking for 27 weeks or more. 

Things
will not likely get better for job-seekers in coming months.  The
economy shrank in the third quarter (July-August-September), and
economists are forecasting an even larger contraction in the fourth
quarter.  In the most recent round of bad news, the Institute for
Supply Management index of the strength of manufacturing activity has
fallen to a level below that in the depths of the previous two
recessions, auto sales have plunged, and claims for unemployment
insurance are approaching 500,000, their highest levels since late
2003. 

In
such a weak labor market, unemployed workers are much more likely to
exhaust their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits before they can find
a job.  At the end of June, policymakers enacted an additional 13 weeks
of UI benefits for workers exhausting their regular benefits, but those
extra weeks of benefits have run out for people who started receiving
them in July.  The House of Representatives in September overwhelmingly
passed and sent to the Senate legislation that would add additional
weeks to this temporary extended benefits program (as well as passing a
broader stimulus package that included these extended UI benefits). 

The
Senate has the opportunity to help unemployed job-seekers and put a
down payment on the economic stimulus package that will ultimately be
needed to counteract the ongoing weakening of the economy by quickly
passing this legislation when it comes back later this month.

###

Share This Article

More in: