‘A Litany of Bad News’: What the Experts Are Saying about the June Jobs Report

Chaquenya JohnsonBy Chaquenya Johnson, Intern

As Center for American Progress senior economist Heather Boushey put it, the national jobs report in June is “a litany of bad news, with nothing below the headline number that can provide optimism that enhanced job growth is right around the corner.”

If the May report on unemployment and payroll statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was disappointing, June’s statistics are just as discouraging for the labor market.

The number of people unemployed (14.1 million), along with the unemployment rate (9.2%), remained essentially unchanged from May. The unemployment rates among the major worker groups — adult men, adult women, teenagers, whites, blacks, and Hispanics — showed little or no change.

What are the experts saying?

Economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute says we’re facing a labor market in retreat.

“Somewhat ironically, this report marks the two-year anniversary of the ‘official’ end of the Great Recession (June 2009) and it is the weakest report since the recovery began,” she says.

“The labor market is currently 7 million payroll jobs below where it was at the official start of the recession three and a half years ago, and this number hugely understates the size of the gap in the labor market by failing to take into account the fact that simply keeping up with the growth in the working-age population would have required the addition of 4.1 million jobs since the recession started in December 2007. This means the labor market is now 11.1 million jobs below the level needed to restore the prerecession unemployment rate (5.0% in December 2007, the official start of the recession).”

Economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says that students who are “investing” in their future by attending college are likely disappointed by the job market. Observing that “those with some college appear to be the big losers at the moment,” Baker notes that the unemployment rate among that group jumped from 8% to 8.4% in June. Baker said this may be due to unemployed workers attaining additional education but still unable to find employment. 

The June jobs report was far worse than economist Jared Bernstein expected. Over the past two months, job creation has essentially ground to a halt, and the June jobs report reveals a much more serious job creation problem in this country than most policy makers realize, Bernstein said.

Bernstein does sound a more positive note than others, saying, “Obviously, a stall is better than the massive job losses that characterized the Great Recession. But if policy makers fail to recognize that our most pressing problem right now is job creation, they are a big part of the problem.  We need them to be part of the solution.”

Read Bernstein's take on the June jobs report here, here, here and here.

Heather Boushey, meanwhile, takes issue with proposals put forward by U.S. House Republican leaders that would reduce benefits for unemployed Americans.

“Rather than cutting benefits for those who are out of work due to no fault of their own, Congress should enact comprehensive unemployment insurance reform that will ensure workers — and the economy — get the help they need when the unemployment rate is high,” she says.

Chaquenya Johnson served as a 2011 summer intern with the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

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