In another sign that the Great Recession is far from over, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the nation lost 263,000 jobs last month, far more than predicted. As a result the official unemployment rate increased to 9.8 percent.
The largest job losses were in construction (64,000), manufacturing (51,000), retail trade (39,000) , and government (53,000).
The nation has lost 2.1 million manufacturing jobs and 1.5 million construction jobs since the onset of the recession in December 2007. Unemployment has surged from 7.6 million to 15.1 million, and the unemployment rate has doubled to 9.8 percent.
Unemployment rates for the major worker groups--adult men (10.3 percent),adult women (7.8 percent), teenagers (25.9 percent), whites (9.0 percent),blacks (15.4 percent), and Hispanics (12.7 percent)--are much higher than at the start of the recession.
The actual rate of unemployment is significantly higher than the 9.8% figure. The U-6 rate, which includes discouraged workers (those who have given up looking for work) and the involuntary part time (those who want full time work, but cannot find it) jumped to a Great Depression level 17%.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 450,000 to 5.4 million. In September, 35.6 percent of unemployed persons were job-less for 27 weeks or more.
In another ominous sign, the Labor Department's reported earlier this week that there there are only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs available. Yet there are 15.1 million people officially unemployed. That's one job opening for every six people looking for work, the worst ratio since the government began tracking open positions in 2000.
During the last recession in 2001, the number of jobless people reached little more than double the number of full-time job openings. By the beginning of this year, job seekers outnumbered jobs by four-to-one, with the ratio growing ever more lopsided in recent months.
The four county Milwaukee area lost 50,400 jobs over the last twelve month, the largest annual decline since 1967.
Midwest Airlines, Badger Meter, GE Medical, Harley Davidson, GM, Quad Graphics and Delphi have shed thousands of workers. The Department of Labor reports that Wisconsin was one of eight states to reach a record high in average weekly new unemployment claims in August.
The city of Milwaukee has been especially hard hit. The number of employed residents in the city fell by 18,333 between August 2008 and August 2009 in what the UWM Center on Economic Development calls "a stunning decline of 7.03 percent."
This is the largest “over-the-year” employment decline in Milwaukee in any month since the Great Recession officially began in December 2007 and the second worst in the nation. Only perpetually distressed Detroit, the epicenter of the auto industry collapse-- suffered a larger employment decline. African American male unemployment remained at almost 50%.
Milwaukee, like the state and the nation, is mired in an employment crisis. Ivory tower discussions about lagging indicators, the economy's green shoots, and market corrections ring hollow as jobs continue to hemorrhage and lives are uprooted. The unemployed are losing their homes, their health insurance and their hopes..
The employment crisis demands action.
Democrats who claim to care about working people control the levers of power and the public purse in Madison and Washington D C. They certainly didn't create this employment crisis. But they are in charge now.
The federal stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, watered down by Republican demands for less stimulus spending (demand) and more ineffective tax cuts, helped keep the economy from collapsing. It has slowed, but not stopped the loss of jobs, Nor has it revived the economy.
The employment crisis demands decisive action at the state and federal level.
Where is the Obama administration's plan to put people back to work?
Where is the planto provide aid to states and local governments so they don't add to the nation's unemployment rolls by laying off even more people.
Where is the Wisconsin plan for jobs and training?
If policymakers in Washington and Madison don't move quickly to address the employment crisis, they will likely find their own jobs are in danger come November 2010.