I said yesterday evening to my wife, the stock market expert in our household, that right then was a good time to buy, since the Dow had sewered yet it almost always liked the federal jobs report, and this one rated to be quite similar to those recent. I don’t know yet about my stock market prediction, but the jobs report one succeeded.
The best news this morning’s Employment Situation Summary had was the same as for months – the past six of them, in fact. The number of seasonally adjusted net new jobs exceeded that needed for population growth as it has since and including February – this time it was plus 209,000. The official unemployment rate, though, broke its four-month stretch of being lower or the same by edging up to 6.2%, unadjusted unemployment climbed from 6.3% to 6.5%, and the unadjusted number of people officially jobless was up over 400,000 to just over 10.3 million.
The American Job Shortage Number, or AJSN, the measure of how many more United States jobs could be quickly filled if getting them were routinely easy, went over 20 million for the first time since February. More than its gain was explained by the count of those recorded as unemployed, as those reporting they wanted work but did not search for it were off almost 100,000 and the number of people not wanting a job at all dropped 300,000. In all, the AJSN increased 306,000, as follows:
The most important secondary measures of employment were mixed and unchanged. A total of 3.2 million Americans were officially jobless for 27 weeks or more, up 100,000, and the number working part-time for economic reasons, meaning they wanted a full-time position but couldn’t find it, stayed at 7.5 million. Civilian labor force participation rose from 62.8% to 62.9%, and the employment to population ratio held at 59.0%.
The AJSN’s improvement over the past year decreased significantly from that in June, but is still almost 1.5 million lower, with latent demand from those officially unemployed, down 1.6 million, being the main story. The count of people in the armed forces, in institutions, and off the grid or otherwise lost to statistics, though, is now 2.8 million higher than it was in July 2013.
So where are we now? The United States job situation seems to be settling into a non-recession pattern, with good job gains combining with people slowly and irregularly leaving the labor force to produce deceptively strong improvements in the unemployment rate. If the economy is truly healing, it is doing so sluggishly, and is as susceptible as ever to a downturn. How long can it continue? Indefinitely, perhaps. Turtles can walk for a long time, even if they threaten to move, instead, at the pace of snails.