Thursday, January 17, 2013

Talking Unemployment

I have to admit the graphic doesn't exactly fit with the article but Slate last week looked into the best places to find a job by studying the unemployment rate of big cities:
The new metro area unemployment numbers are out, and the winner for lowest unemployment among American metropolitan areas is once again Bismarck, N.D. at 2.6 percent...In terms of large metropolitan areas with populations of over 1 million, you ought to set your sails for Oklahama City (4.5 percent) or New Orleans (4.7 percent and falling fast) as labor markets that are both hot and clearly seem to have the ability to absorb more people. also doing quite well with a 5.1 percent unemployment rate but not quite as well as the D.C. area where we're at 5 percent.
As you can see by the always-handy Google graph, the unemployment rate has been pretty steadily decreasing since it reached 10% back in October of 2009 to the point where it's at ~7.8% now. In New York, we're seeing a 8.3% unemployment rate in the state and a 8.8% unemployment rate in New York City according to the New York Department of Labor.

The New York Times Economix blog recently looked into why the unemployment rate was so high still but in the article brought up something else that is equally disturbing:
Another feature of the current recovery is the long duration of unemployment for many workers. At the end of last year, 4.8 million Americans were unemployed for 27 weeks or more, and their share in the total number of unemployed workers fell to 39 percent after peaking at 45.5 percent in March 2011 and exceeding 40 percent for 31 consecutive months. The previous peak was a far lower 26 percent in 1983, at a time when the unemployment rate was about as high as it is now.
That number may actually be low, as it does not factor in "1.1 million discouraged workers who want a job but are not currently looking for work, and many of the 1.7 million workers who have joined disability rolls because they cannot find a job."

That's scary. And while all the talk lately has been about the Fiscal Cliff and the Debt Ceiling and other matters of the such, the author points out that Congress has not taken into action some of President Obama's proposals from his first term that would have started to reduce this long-term unemployment such as increased unemployment fund for job training and placement programs and a tax credit for businesses hiring people out of a job for more than 6 months, among other initiatives. The author worries that this could compound the problem and lead to much worse news for the US economy than anything we've had to worry about thus far. Scary stuff, indeed.

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