The bad news in June's jobs report is slightly insidious. From the outside, it doesn't look so bad. It's not like we had the kinds of job losses we had earlier this year. But there are many, many ugly things in this report. A list:
- Job losses were a good deal higher than expected: 467,000 vs. 365,000
- The average workweek hit a record low, thanks to employers slashing payroll hours.
- The U6 measure--an alternate measure of unemployment that includes part-timers who want full-time jobs, and discouraged people who are unemployed but have stopped looking for work--hit 16.5 percent.
- The teen unemployment rate hit 24 percent. (That does not mean that 24 percent of teenagers aren't working. That means that 24 percent of teenagers who want jobs cannot find them.)
- Hourly earnings were flat, but hours have been cut, so weekly earnings fell in June.
- Male v. female unemployment rate: 10 v. 7.6
- The number of people out of work for 27 weeks or more has hit 4.4 million--that's 3 in 10 unemployed workers.
- People are beginning to drop out of the labor force. The workforce decreased from 155.1 million in May to 154.9 million in June.
There are some good things--like the fact that job losses are clearly slowing. Also, the unemployment rate ticked up by a smaller amount than most economists had forecasted.
One crucial thing here is the issue of longterm unemployment. Workers who are out of the labor force for very long periods of time can lose out on skills development. There is a very, very strong case to be made for doing volunteer work, re-training, even adult unpaid internships, during unemployment. You'll continue to build skills, connections, and have something to put down on your resume or relate in conversation or at interviews. Pessimism is the other baggage that comes with longterm unemployment. Companies like to hire positive people--especially when businesses are trying to claw their way back post-recession. Workers need to be aware that it's as important to take care of their attitudes as it is their skills during a period of unemployment. It is hard to hide a fatalistic attitude. Find a way to kick it as often as it pops up.