Tag Archives: Labor Department

Barack Obama,

Jobs report gives Obama a boost

President Barack Obama got much-needed good news Friday following his disappointing debate performance as the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level since he took office. Republican rival Mitt Romney said Obama still hasn’t done enough to create jobs.

The figures announced by the Labor Department — 114,000 new jobs last month to bring unemployment to 7.8 percent — gave Obama fresh evidence to support his argument that his economic policies are working. Romney countered that the country can’t afford four more years of the president’s leadership and said he would lead a recovery with pro-growth policies for job creation and rising income.

“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement less than an hour after the jobless figures were released. He pointed to millions of people still struggling to find work, living in poverty and using food stamps to feed their families. He also argued that the rate is low in part because some people have quit looking for work.

The unemployment rate fell from 8.1 percent in August, matching its level in January 2009 when Obama became president. There is one more monthly unemployment report before Election Day, so Friday’s numbers could leave a lasting impact on Americans who are already casting ballots in states that allow early voting.

The candidates were headed Friday to opposite ends of one of those early voting states, Virginia. Romney was campaigning for support in the state’s far western coal country while Obama was rallying students at George Mason University in the Washington suburbs.

Obama, seeking to rebound after Romney dominated their first debate Wednesday night, is accusing his rival of being dishonest about how his policies would affect the tax bills of middle-class families and the Medicare benefits of retirees — a squabble that has even injected Big Bird into the race.

“I just want to make sure I’ve got this straight: He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on ‘Sesame Street’?” Obama said Thursday in Madison, Wis., referring to Romney’s statement in the debate that he would cut a federal subsidy for PBS, which airs “Sesame Street.” ”Thank goodness somebody’s finally cracking down on Big Bird.”

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Jobless rate falls below 8%

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years and giving President Barack Obama a potential boost with the election a month away.

The rate declined from 8.1 percent because the number of people who said they were employed soared by 873,000 — an encouraging sign for an economy that’s been struggling to create enough jobs.

The number of unemployed Americans is now 12.1 million, the fewest since January 2009.

The Labor Department said employers added 114,000 jobs in September. It also said the economy created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than the department had initially estimated.

Wages rose in September. And more people started looking for work.

The revisions show employers added 146,000 jobs per month from July through September, up from 67,000 in the previous three months.

The 7.8 percent unemployment rate for September matches the rate in January 2009, when Obama took office. In the months after Obama’s inauguration, the rate rose sharply and had topped 8 percent for 43 straight months.

The decline in the unemployment rate comes at a critical moment for Obama, who is coming off a weak debate performance this week against GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

The September employment report may be the last that might sway undecided voters. The October jobs report will be released only four days before Election Day.

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Unemployment falls in nearly 90% of U.S. cities

Unemployment rates fell in August in nearly 90 percent of large U.S. metro areas, mainly because more people gave up looking for work.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that unemployment rates dropped in 329 large cities, the most in four months. Rates rose in 24 cities and were unchanged in 19.

In the Metro Phoenix area, the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in August 2012, down from 8.8 percent in August 2011.

The decline in rates across America’s cities was largely for a bad reason: The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively looking for work.

The trend closely matched the national figures. The U.S. unemployment rate fell in August to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, also because more people stopped searching for jobs and weren’t counted.

The metro data are more volatile than the national figures because they aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors, such as summer hiring.

The four cities with the biggest drops in unemployment were all in Mississippi, where the work force shrunk by 1.8 percent to 1.3 million. In Hattiesburg, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent from 9 percent. In Jackson, it fell to 6.7 percent from 8.2 percent. Pascagoula and Gulfport-Biloxi reported the next biggest declines. Yet the state barely added jobs in August.

The two cities with the biggest increases were in Washington state: Yakima’s rate jumped to 10 percent from 8.2 percent, and Wenatchee’s rose to 7.2 percent from 5.7 percent. Both are centers of apple production and their rates can be volatile during the harvest season.

In Denver, where President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney were set to debate Wednesday night, the unemployment rate fell half a percentage point to 7.7 percent. Unemployment also dropped in Las Vegas, where Obama has been preparing for the debate, although it was still painfully high at 12.3 percent. Nevada has the nation’s highest unemployment rate of 12.1 percent.

There were some signs of progress in the report. The unemployment rate is below 7 percent in 123 metro areas, up from 73 a year ago. And the rate tops 10 percent in only 54 areas, about half the number compared with a year ago.

The lowest unemployment rate was in Bismarck, N.D., where it was 2.6 percent. North Dakota has benefited from a boom in oil and gas drilling.

The highest rate was in El Centro, Calif. and Yuma, which both reported rates of 29.9 percent. Both cities have large numbers of migrant farm workers.

Construction Employment

Construction Employment Declines In 31 States In Past Year; Arizona Gains 8,200 Jobs

Construction employment declined in 31 states from July 2011 to July 2012 and in 28 states in the past month, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data.

Arizona bucked the national trend, adding 8,200 jobs during that period and ranking No. 6 in construction jobs gained. It went from 111,800 jobs in July 2011 to 120,000 in July 2012.

Association officials noted that construction employment decreased in the majority of states as public construction funding continues to shrink, offsetting gains in homebuilding and nonresidential construction.

“Public construction cuts in particular are taking their toll on construction employment in many parts of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “With economic growth remaining sluggish, there is a chance construction employment will begin to slip in even more places.”

The economist said that among states losing construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-15.%, -2,200 jobs), followed by Mississippi (-10.8%, -5,300 jobs) and Arkansas (-10.4%, -4,900 jobs). Florida lost the most jobs (-16,900, -5.2%), followed by Illinois (-9,800, -5%) and Missouri (-9,500 jobs, -9.2%).

Simonson noted that 18 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between July 2011 and July 2012, while construction employment remained stagnant for the year in Hawaii. North Dakota added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (16%, 3,800 jobs), followed by D.C. (12.2%, 1,500 jobs) and Nebraska (10%, 4,100 jobs). California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (27,300, 5%), followed by Texas (22,900, 4.1%) and Indiana (9,300, 7.8%).

Arkansas had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-4.1%, -1,800 jobs), followed by Missouri (-3.8%, -3,700 jobs) and Montana (-3.5%, -900 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses in July occurred in Ohio (-4,300, -2.4%), followed by Missouri and New Jersey (-2,700, -2.2%).

Twenty states plus D.C. added construction jobs between June and July, while construction employment was stagnant for the month in Utah and Alaska. The highest percentage gains for the month occurred in Rhode Island (3.8%%, 600 jobs), followed by Hawaii (2.9%, 800 jobs) and West Virginia (2.6%, 900 jobs). New York added the most jobs during the month (2,700 jobs, 0.9%), followed by Indiana (2,400 jobs, 1.9%) and Oregon (1,200, 1.7%).

Association officials cautioned that construction employment would continue to suffer from the impact of ongoing cuts to public construction budgets. Worse, if economic growth slows as businesses worry about future tax uncertainty, private demand for construction is likely to lag. They urged officials in Washington to act quickly to provide employers with tax certainty and enact long-delayed infrastructure measures for water and other systems.

“The longer Washington waits to act on vital tax and infrastructure measures, the more construction workers will lose their jobs,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The best way to boost employment and help the economy is to invest in basics like clean water and set predictable tax rates.”

Construction Employment - Welder

Construction Employment Up In 25 States; Arizona No. 3 On The List

Construction employment increased in just half the states plus the District of Columbia from June 2011 to June 2012, but declined in a slim majority of states in the past month, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (27,200, 5%), followed by Texas (24,400, 4.4%) and Arizona (11,200, 10.2%).

“The latest state data show again how fragile and fragmentary the construction recovery is,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Although private sector demand for structures has risen in most states, improvement in single-family homebuilding is spotty and public investment is shrinking.”

Simonson noted that 25 states and D.C. added construction jobs between June 2011 and June 2012, while construction employment fell in 25 states. D.C. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs for the year (17.8%, 2,100 jobs), followed by North Dakota (16.2%, 3,800 jobs) and Montana (14.6%, 3,300 jobs).

The economist said that among states that lost construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-20.5%, -3,200 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-11.1%, -10,200 jobs) and Mississippi (-9.7%, -4,700 jobs). Florida lost the most jobs (-24,600, -7.4%), followed by New York (-12,500, -4.1%), Wisconsin and Illinois (-9,900, -5.1%).

Less positively, only 18 states plus D.C. added construction jobs between May and June, while construction employment decreased in 27 states and held steady in five. The highest percentage gains for the month occurred in D.C. (7.8%, 1,000 jobs), followed by North Dakota (2.6%, 700 jobs) and Montana (2.4%, 600 jobs). Texas added the most jobs during the month (9,600, 1.7%), followed by California (8,100, 1.4%) and Ohio (3,500, 2%).

South Dakota had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-5.2%, -1,100 jobs), followed by Arkansas (-3.7%, -1,700 jobs) and Iowa (-3.4%, -2,300 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses in June occurred in Florida (-5,300, -1.7%), followed by Iowa and Massachusetts (-2,100, -2%).

Association officials warned that construction employment was likely to stagnate or shrink in more states if federal and state officials continue to cut investments in public infrastructure and buildings.

“Ongoing cuts to vital infrastructure, school and university investments are hurting the overall economy, our future competitiveness and causing hardship for too many construction workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Budget discipline should not come at the expense of slashing essential investments.”