by Tula Connell, Jul 8, 2011
The nation gained a stunningly small number of jobs in June–18,000–while the U.S. unemployment rate rose from 9.1 percent in May to 9.2 percent last month, according to Department of Labor data released this morning. Analysts had predicted jobs would grow by 100,000 in June. This is the third consecutive month the unemployment rate has worsened and the worst unemployment rate of the year. Hiring by companies, which excludes government agencies, was the weakest since May 2010.
Employment was essentially flat in construction and manufacturing, while health care employment continued to grow (+14,000) as did employment in leisure and hospitality (+34,000).
Some 39,000 jobs were lost in the public sector, and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Josh Bivens points out that the loss of public-sector jobs is a huge obstacle to growth. Nearly all of the 430,000 jobs that have been lost in the public sector during the current recovery have been lost at the local level. Local government employment is now 407,000 lower than it was at the beginning of the recovery, and almost half of those losses have been education workers.
But overall, hiring is “barely happening,” says EPI economist Heidi Shierholz.
We have shattered all records relating to unemployment duration. We are still treading water at the bottom of this very deep hole.
In fact, most of the improvement in the jobs picture is based on a decline in layoffs, not an increase in hiring, according to EPI. The policy group notes that real gap in the labor market is now around 11 million jobs, and unemployed workers continue to face near-record spells of unemployment, with racial and ethnic minorities faring worse than whites in both the recession and the recovery.
Some 25 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work, and wages are essentially flat.
Yet Republicans in Congress continue to press for legislation that would kill even more jobs. Just yesterday, House Republicans proposed cutting transportation and transit infrastructure funding so deeply that it would cost half a million jobs next year alone and send the nation’s highways, bridges and transit systems into even deeper disrepair. In fact, Republican Reps. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Eric Cantor (Va.) are proposing a federal budget plan that would cost between 1.7 million and 2.2 million jobs in the first two years, according to reports earlier this year from Moody Analytics and the Economic Policy Institute.
America’s workers need a solution to the jobs crisis now–and that means stepped up federal involvement in creating jobs that clearly aren’t being created in the private sector. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says we need to start with “needed investments in our future, like renewing a robust Surface Transportation Act so we can put people to work fixing and modernizing our roads, highways and bridges.”
Let’s engage in an adult conversation about a fairer tax system–to raise the revenues we need for the services we depend on, rather than cutting budgets indiscriminately and killing jobs. Let’s reform our trade policies, so we can export American-made goods and services – not jobs. Let’s invest in our workforce, so we can acquire and hone the skills we need to compete in the global economy in the 21st century. This is the conversation we must have to start building a high wage, high skill economy where the middle class is strong and America thrives.