National Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.2% as Hiring Slows

National Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.2% as Hiring Slows

10/22/2013 BY: CARRIE BAY

Employers hired 148,000 new workers in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Tuesday. The hiring pace in the U.S. slowed compared to previous months, yet the unemployment rate slipped to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent in August.

Economist surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the report to show job growth of 180,000 for the month of September.

The BLS described the headline news of its report, which was delayed by two-and-a-half weeks due to the government shutdown, as having “changed little in September,” but noted the national rate of the unemployed has declined by 0.4 percentage point since June.

The number of unemployed persons, at 11.3 million, was also characterized as “little changed” over the month. According to the government’s numbers, however, unemployment has decreased by 522,000 since June.

In September, the number of long-term unemployed-meaning those jobless for 27 weeks or more-was little changed at 4.1 million. These individuals accounted for 36.9 percent of the unemployed. The government says the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 725,000 over the past year.

Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist, issued a statement calling the latest numbers “grim for housing.” Kolko says although residential construction jobs are outpacing overall job growth, the two most recent quarters saw construction job gains slow. “Worse,” Kolko added, “the job market isn’t improving in the areas where it would most help housing demand: among young adults and in clobbered metros.”

Residential construction employment, including specialty trade contractors, was up 5 percent year-over-year, ahead of overall national employment growth of 1.7 percent, Kolko said. But, he explained, after adding 29,000 construction jobs in Q4 2012 and 40,000 jobs in Q1 2013, residential construction added just 16,000 jobs in Q2 2013 and 19,000 jobs in Q3 2013.

Furthermore, Kolko says construction employment is growing much more slowly than construction activity, with 3.3 employed residential construction workers for every unit under construction in August, compared with 2.6 before the bubble.

At the same time, a growing number of young adults remain out of work. Kolko says employment among 25-34 year-olds, the prime age group for housing demand, is just 75 percent—well below pre-bubble norms of 78-80 percent and not far off the recession low of 73-74 percent.

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