Unemployment Remains High in September

By Toni Vranjes

October 7, 2011

Despite an increase in payrolls, unemployment remained at 9.1 percent last month.

The high unemployment rate reinforces the need for Congress to approve President Obama’s job-creation plan, according to Katharine Abraham, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

In a blog post, she wrote, “Today’s report underscores the President’s call for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more money in the pockets of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to keep teachers in the classroom; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while not adding to the deficit over ten years.”

Employment jumped by 103,000 in September, boosted partly by the return of 45,000 Verizon workers to the payrolls. The Verizon workers had been on strike for a couple weeks in August. Their departure and return has skewed recent payroll numbers.

Meanwhile, the labor force increased by 423,000 last month.

A broader measure called the “underemployment rate” also paints a bleak picture. In September, it rose to 16.5 percent from 16.2 percent. The underemployment rate includes part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs, as well as people who have stopped looking for work.

Job growth occurred in professional and business services, health care, and construction. But government employment declined again, as the U.S. Postal Service and local governments shed jobs.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department revised payroll numbers for August to show a gain of 57,000 jobs. Originally, the government reported that the economy created no jobs in August.

However, the pace of employment growth has slowed in recent months. During the period from October to April, job growth averaged 161,000 per month. Over the past five months, however, the economy has added only 72,000 jobs on average each month.

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