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Keeping an Eye on Jobs

 

By Joel Dresang                        

The much-anticipated Labor Department employment report Friday included some strong indicators as well as reminders of how deep the recession has sunk. Among the particulars:

Temporary-help jobs. Although labor data generally are lagging indicators of economic swings, analysts consider temp employment trends a harbinger of broader job movements. The 26,000 temporary jobs added in April marked the seventh month in a row of growth for the sector, the longest streak since late  1999.

Average weekly work hours for all employees. Before they add staff, employers tend to make sure they’re working their current employees as much as they can. A tick up to 34.1 hours last month from 34 in March and 33.9 in February marked the first back-to-back gains in the workweek since before the recession started in December 2007.

Long-term unemployed. The percentage of unemployed jobseekers out of work for 27 weeks or more hit 45.9% in April, the highest on records going back to 1948.

Unofficial unemployment rate. This includes not only people failing to find work but also those too discouraged to keep looking and those who have settled for part-time situations for lack of full-time prospects. As opposed to the official unemployment rate of 9.9% in April, the unofficial rate was 17.1% – up for the third month in a row.

By the way, the increase in the unemployment rate – from 9.7% in March – includes the addition of 195,000 jobseekers who previously dropped out of the labor market. That could be a sign that more people are encouraged about their prospects to find work.

To hear more about the report and other recent developments affecting investors, listen to our “Money Talk with Bob Landaas” webcast, posted late Friday, after the markets have closed.

Joel Dresang is vice president of communications at Landaas & Company.

initially posted May 6, 2010

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