Recent reports show that the unemployment rate has fell to 8.6%, the lowest it’s been since March 2009. While October gained 80,000 jobs, November saw an additional 120,000 non-farm jobs. This may seem like a ray of hope, but we’re not out of the woods yet. While private sectors have increased their payroll by 140,000 jobs, government on all levels have let go of about 20,000 people. So while many people found themselves making income again, there are still tens of thousands of people who joined the multiple millions who are unemployed.
One of the reasons employment increased is because of the holidays and seasonal hiring. Many of these new jobs were in retail, restaurants and bars. Evidence of that was shown during Black Friday, where spending rose 6.6% with $11.4 billion being spent. This may seem like a lot of money, but the US national debt is still in the trillions. The unemployment rate does not take into account discouraged workers, who have stopped job searching altogether, a number that is sure to be in the millions as well. We still have a long way to go.
The question is how many of the jobs added are permanent and long term? This new growth was primarily part time positions, where hours are shorter and wages are lower. After the holiday season, will we find that the unemployment rate goes back up? Did we factor in the amount of people who exited the workforce, either by resuming their education, retiring, or becoming discouraged from looking? February 2008 saw 8.7 million jobs cut, and since then, we’ve only regained 2.5 million. Some of those jobs are eliminated completely, with no future of returning. 25 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. The rate of growth is leaving many unenthused.
4 years ago this month is when the Great Recession began, prompting a housing market bubble burst, a stock market crash, and elimination of jobs in every sector. Since then, people have been finding themselves in very rough positions including unbearable debt, foreclosed homes, spiked interest rates and cut spending limits. According to analysts, if job growth continues at its current pace, it’ll take another 4 1/2 years to get unemployment where it was when the recession started.
Until then, the country continues to float along with government resources. In California, the maximum amount of time you can collect unemployment benefits is 99 weeks, which seems like a long time, but millions of jobless people have been unemployed longer than 27 weeks. Reports have shown that many companies and businesses do not look to hire those who have been without a job for an extended period of time, which continues a vicious cycle. Unemployment benefits eventually run out, then how do the jobless pay their bills and make a living? This is one of the many concerns of Occupy protesters.
So while the employment growth may briefly make you smile and share with your network, there’s still a lot of work to be done and a lot more people who need help. With 2011 coming to a close, we hope the growth remains constant in the new year.