For the first time in 26 years, unemployment has officially topped over 10 percent.
The Labor Department said Friday that the economy shed a net total of 190,000 jobs in October, less than the revised 219,000 lost in September. August job losses were also downgraded, shifting initial figures at 201,000 to 154,000.
Yet despite these numbers actually signaling a sharp decline from the huge losses suffered two years ago, nearly 16 million people still find themselves out of work. And if you counted those who work part-time jobs or have stopped searching for work altogether, the unemployment rate would be adjusted to 17.5 percent.
All of this follows news that the recession has seemingly ended after word that the economy grew at a modest 3.5 percent. But as Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist for New York-based investment firm Miller Tabak & Co explained to Air America, “You need explosive growth to take the unemployment rate down.”
High employment and sharp declines in consumer spending will no doubt impede any significant recovery of the U.S. economy.
Will this spur a louder call for a second stimulus package? It’s likely, though there is a growing concern as to how effective the first stimulus bill has truly been in sparing and creating new jobs.
As the New York Times reports:
Last week the Obama administration released reports from more than 130,000 recipients of stimulus money in which they claimed to have saved or created more than 640,000 jobs, but a review of those reports shows that some are simply wrong, while others contain apparently subjective estimates.
A spokesman for Toro said the 50-job figure was not accurate, making it one of a number of reports with apparent errors. In many other cases, though, claims of jobs created are simply judgment calls, often by recipients trying to follow complex federal guidelines.
Ultimately, the fact remains that we are losing far fewer jobs than we were months ago and this is a positive signal in the economy’s recovery. However, in the meantime many questions linger.
How long will it take to create jobs? How much longer can the government cover the cost of the unemployment without adding even more significant debt? And one long-term question one hopes will be answered once the economy bounces back: Just how many jobs did we really lose during Bush’s presidency? The answer will seal the fate of what looks to be his place as the worst president in U.S. history.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories on how you have coped with job losses in the recession? How have you managed? How has your search for a new job gone? Are you still hopeful?
Please submit your recession stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.