Quick Takes | Jobs and Unemployment

Uninspiring employment report

“These new data do not present a picture of a healthy private sector and offer nothing even closely resembling the job growth we need to dig us out of a very deep hole,” said EPI president Lawrence Mishel.

This morning’s release of the May 2010 employment report showed an increase of 431,000 payroll jobs and a 0.2 percentage point decrease in the unemployment rate to 9.7%. The vast majority of May’s new jobs (411,000, or 95%) were temporary Census jobs that will disappear over the summer. The private sector saw very modest growth, adding just 41,000 jobs, much slower than the average growth of the previous three months, which was 146,000.

An ongoing concern is the size of the gap in the labor market. To put it in perspective, consider the following: in the boom of the late 1990s, the fastest year of employment growth was 2.6%, in 1998. If, in the event we have that extremely strong level of growth from here on out, we would still not get down to pre-recession unemployment rates until January 2015. The hole in the labor market is staggering, unemployment remains near 10% and long-term unemployment continues to break records. In May, nearly half — 46% — of all unemployed workers had been unemployed for over six months.

“Given this uninspiring employment picture, the economic case for substantial additional government action to aid the long-term unemployed and to generate jobs remains overwhelming,” said EPI economist Heidi Shierholz.

See EPI’s Jobs Picture for full analysis.

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