In December of 2015, the nation was able to add about 292,000 jobs to the economy, which is a glaring difference from the 2007 recession eight years ago that took a tool on the U.S. economy. For the third month in a row, the unemployment rate held steady at 5% according to the U.S. Department of Labor. For many such as Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, this is a good sign.
Perez also noted that typically lower paying jobs are the first to return, but in this case many high quality and high-paying jobs are on the rebound. Business and professional services and healthcare are some of the sectors that have seen stable growth over the last few months. But despite the fact that there was hiring in nearly every sector, the Philadelphia area is preparing for the potential fallout from the Dupont Co. job cut which resulted in 1,700 lost jobs.
Currently in the United States, about 7.9 million people remain unemployed, which is down from 8.7 million from this time last year. About one in four of these workers have been out of work for more than six months. Labor Secretary Perez indicated that these numbers are a bit too high, and it’s somewhat troubling to see people out of work for so long. Some of the recent gains that we have seen are the result of some of the long-term unemployed returning to work.
Automotive sales in particular have led to an increase in retail sales, however there were fewer jobs in businesses selling general merchandise, sporting goods, clothing, and hobby supplies. Perez indicated that the weather can have an impact on some of these niches, as it was unseasonably warm over the last month or two.
Transportation and warehousing saw an employment increase, and many other non-store retailers were also able to add employees. Leisure and hospitality were also able to grow, however jobs in gambling and amusement parks remained the same or dropped.
The government had recently been reducing jobs but has now has been adding them at the federal, state and local levels. One interesting statistic is the weekly report on claims for unemployment insurance – in 2009, at the end of the recession, 600,000 people were signed up. Last week that number was at 277,000 which is the 43rd week in a row that the mark was below 300,000 which marks the longest streak since the 70s.
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