It's about Jobs, Whether You Have One
At 8:30 Friday morning, the government put out a few numbers about unemployment, and like all numbers, they can say many things.
It's all a matter of perspective. A couple weekends ago, a line of people encircled an entire city block in New York, waiting to take a civil service exam for the state Motor Vehicles Department. The state gives these exams every so often, but this looked like the longest I've seen in 20 years.
But the Bureau of Labor Statistics report was decidedly upbeat. The two big numbers were a 216,000 increase in the number of new hires, and a small drop in the unemployment rate to 8.8 percent. The BLS summary provides a complete snapshot.
Over all, economists liked these numbers a lot and said the country's economic recovery appeared to be on solid ground. The reports were the best in years. But they had caveats.
Their cautions partially explained the huge number of people hoping for a spot in the state government's work force. Wages have been flat, and 6 million people who have been out of work for 6 months or more and are still looking for jobs remained out of work.
In addition, the number of people not counted in the labor force grew by 2 million to 85.6 million since March 2010. Many are in school and many are retired. Some have never worked and some are considered discouraged workers who drop out of the labor market. The report includes the 239 million Americans 16 years and older who are not in institutions.
The penalty for lacking education is the job market today is severe. People who don't have a high school diploma have an 13.7 percent unemployment rate, while college graduates have a 4.4 percent unemployment rate.Continued on the next page