New Job(less) Figures – What’s next?

New Job(less) Figures – What’s next?

New goverment report on job figures came out this morning.  There are several Wall Street Journal articles today reflecting on this new data.  Here are the links and some excerpts:

Recession Jobs Losses Top 5 Million

Unemployed Lose Fallback Options

Some Employers See Hiring Opportunity

The U.S. continued to shed jobs at an unrelenting clip in March, pushing total losses since the recession started 16 months ago past five million.

The figures, which included another sharp rise in the unemployment rate to a 25-year high, are a sober reality check on the economy after some mildly encouraging news on housing, automobiles and manufacturing.

January’s decline (741,000) is the third-largest on record. However, the other two — a 834,000 decline in 1949 and a nearly two million plunge in 1945 — were driven by one-time events including a large coal and steel strike and by the end of World War II.

The economy has shed 5.1 million jobs since the recession started in December 2007, with over two million of those losses occurring in the last three months alone.

Layoff announcements continued last month across sectors that included: United Technologies Corp.; General Dynamics Corp.; National Semiconductor Corp.; and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The unemployment rate, which is calculated by using a survey of households as opposed to companies, jumped 0.4 percentage point to 8.5%, the highest since November 1983.

In its latest report on the U.S. economy, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said it expects the jobless rate to reach 10.5% by the end of next year.

By broader measures, the labor market is already there, and then some. When marginally attached and involuntary part-time workers are included, the rate of unemployed or underemployed workers hit 15.6% last month, up from 14.8% in February and more than six percentage points higher than it was one year ago.  That underscores how many people are searching for work or merely settling for something less than satisfactory.

The unemployed are also staying idled much longer. According to Friday’s report, the number of people unemployed 27 weeks or more climbed 265,000 to 3.2 million, or almost one-in-four of the total. That’s the highest ratio since 1983.

The growing ranks of unemployed Americans are turning to the traditional fallbacks — retail, restaurants, customer service — to ride out a rough economy. The bad news is job openings there are growing scarce, too.

Despite what objectives they may have put atop their resumes, when asked to describe the work they really wanted, the job seekers largely had the same goal: “I’ll take anything right now.”

In many cases, that desperation means that even educated workers must trade down to jobs below their potential and with lower pay. That results in painful, long-term effects, from hurting their own career advancement to displacing those with less education or experience.

Employment is down in every industry except health care, education and government.

Savannah Red restaurant in Charlotte, N.C., received nearly 200 applications for a part-time server job that, six months ago, drew only five applicants.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America Inc. received 19,000 applicants for 100 jobs at a new hospital near Phoenix, opened in December.

Even though the recession is bad for business, it can be good for those who are hiring.   Strategically hiring skilled, productive employees can help employers boost efficiency and save money.

A recent posting for a New York City store manager drew 700 applications in two days. A listing for a human-resources manager drew more than 100 applications in 24 hours.

But hiring in a downturn can be tricky. Job seekers are not only more numerous but more desperate, hiring managers say. Weeding through hundreds of resumes is time consuming, and mistakes can be costly. Some employers are trying to screen out applicants who are merely seeking a paycheck until the economy recovers.

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