A higher unemployment rate would be an encouraging sign for the economy if it's for the right reason - more people looking for work.
A higher unemployment rate would be an encouraging sign for the economy if it’s for the right reason — more people looking for work.
Hiring is warming up, but it remains far from hot. In September, more jobs were added to American payrolls than any other month since the summer of 2008, according to one survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those jobs include full and part-time workers, seasonal employees and rehired workers who had been furloughed or laid off. At the same time, job openings in September were the highest since the spring of 2008.
On Friday, with the release of the November jobs report, we will see if the improving employment opportunities from earlier this fall are getting sidelined American job seekers back into the labor force.
The unemployment rate has been falling. While millions have been hired, millions of others have simply dropped out of the job market. The proportion of the population actively engaged with the labor force is at its lowest rate since the middle of the Carter administration. There are myriad reasons to drop out of the working population. Sure, baby boomers are retiring. Some people go back to school or are stay-at-home parents. Others, however, are simply dropping out altogether. That helps push down the unemployment rate even while new job growth has been unimpressive.
If those frustrated and dropped-out workers are encouraged by the rise in job hiring and job openings this fall, they could be jumping back in. When they restart the job hunt, it could push up the unemployment rate for the right reason.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts “The Sunshine Economy” on WLRN-FM in Miami, where he is vice president of news. He is the former co-anchor and managing editor of “Nightly Business Report” on public television. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.
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