October 15 2012
ICS Managing Director discusses unemployment numbers
September's BLS jobs report, released October 5th, is a very pleasant surprise. Not only has the unemployment rate dropped under 8%, but upward revisions to the employment increases for July and August show the underpinnings to this month's numbers are stronger than previously reported. After months of reported declines in government employment, that put a drag on national employment, the government sector added 10,000 jobs in September, and revisions of July and August flipped those months' numbers from negative to positive.
"Excluding spring 2010 when the large-scale Census 2010 hiring caused a temporary but very large blip, the last time the U.S. saw three consecutive months of net additions to government employment was back in mid-2008," states Cornell University's ILR School, ICS managing director, Linda Barrington. "We will certainly be looking forward to the release of the Employment Cost Index at the end of the month to see if and how these stronger numbers are translating into compensation gains for employees (costs to employers)," she adds.
Increasingly, the growing number of marginal, contract, or contingent workers is drawing the interest of analysts and pundits alike. ICS' Barrington tells the Fiscal Times that how people answer the BLS employment survey when they're working on a short-term contract or as an independent consultant may depend on "…how they feel in their gut. They may not be technically unemployed, but they're always looking for work and perhaps feeling underemployed." Such workers are certainly "becoming a bigger and bigger part of the economy," she adds.