The recent unemployment numbers didn’t appear to be all bad: Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, up from 146,000 added in April. Good news, right?
Not entirely. What lies a bit deeper is cause for concern. The UI rate ticked up 0.1% month over month. Not a huge concern in and of itself, but buried within that small increase are much larger increases in unemployment among certain subgroups: 28.2% of black males age 16-24 were unemployed in May, up from 24.9% in April.
Additionally, the types of jobs that are being added are, in large measure, NOT higher-wage, benefits-eligible positions. Retailers added 28,000 jobs; Restaurants, 38,000. In most urban centers, neither of these job categories pay a family wage and very few offer benefits.
Another major concern: The National Employment Law Project reports that to date 23 states have implemented sequester-mandated cuts to unemployment benefits. For the average worker in impacted states, the monthly benefit is being reduced by $155/month. For most unemployed workers, that could make the difference between being able to feed their family or having to rely on food banks and other sources, or being able to reliably pay rent. And this is far from over. The longer it takes states to implement the sequester-mandated cuts, the deeper the cuts will be.
We’re well into the 5th year post-economic crash and as a nation we’re nowhere near where we should be in terms of the overall employment picture.
Now, the one bright spot: The US Auto industry is once again in full swing–and is on a hiring spree. It’s expected that over 35,000 jobs will be added in 2013–ranging from engineering to IT and manufacturing positions. Since 2009, 1 out of every 4 manufacturing jobs has been added in the auto industry. Good news for that sector and the economy as a whole. As an auto enthusiast, I’m thrilled that the US automakers are producing some world-class vehicles–and the auto-buying public is responding enthusiastically.