U.S. and Canadian Data Releases: Off the Track Observations

August 6, 2010

The U.S. unemployment rate has been 9.4% or greater for fifteen consecutive months, one-month short of the 16-month streak in which such occurred in 1982-3.  The broader unemployment/underemployment/discouraged worker rate of 16.5% is much higher now than then, and that figures is most likely well under-stated at present.

U.S. private employment went up just 51K per month in May-July, down from 200K per month in March-April and not much better than the rise of 39K per month in January-February.  At least the direction remains upward.  In the first and second halves of 2009, private employment fell by 615K per month and 161K per month, respectively.

The United States had 3.4 million fewer private-sector jobs in July 2010 than ten years earlier in July 2000.  Unfortunately, there were about 25 million more people of age 16 or older.

Total U.S. non-farm payroll jobs declined by 221K in June and another 131K in July, and the latest month showed an on-year dip of 0.04%.  Today’s report was weak enough such that jobs since Obama became president have dropped 1.7% annualized.  In a posting on this site yesterday filed under “Larry’s Blog,” it was observed that jobs through June had dropped at an annualized rate of 1.6% under Obama’s leadership.

Even though U.S. real GDP expanded at a 3.1% annualized rate between the final quarter of last year and the spring quarter of 2010, job layoffs stopped slowing.  New jobless insurance claims are a proxy of layoffs, and these averaged 458.5K per week during the four weeks between July 3 and July 31, an insignificant improvement from 466.75K in the four weeks of November 21-December 19, 2009.  Claims averaged 464K per week during the past 36 weeks.  They had previously dropped from a peak around 650K per week in April 2009. 

Canada has a much healthier labor market than the United States.  Canadian jobs fell by 9.3K in July, but that followed an increase of 226.6K in the second quarter.  The net change between March and July was akin to an increase of 412K per month over four months in the U.S. labor market.  While U.S. jobs edged 0.04% lower over the twelve months between July 2009 and July 2010, Canadian jobs advanced 393.7K or 2.3% in the same period.

Full-time Canadian jobs rose 1.6% over the past 12 months, while part-time workers climbed by 5.4%.  Private employees (up 3.2%) advanced slightly more rapidly than public-sector workers (+2.6%).

Hourly wages in the year to July increased similarly in the United States (1.8%) and Canada 2.2%).

Copyright Larry Greenberg 2010.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.

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