Unemployment Unchanged, Real Wages Dropping

There’s no good news in December’s jobs report, as far as I can see. The jobs recovery…isn’t, and the economy is still struggling.

American employers added 155,000 jobs in December, about apace with job growth over the last year, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

The biggest gains were in health care, food services, construction and manufacturing, and the government sector showed modest job losses, the report said. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, the same as in November, whose rate was revised up from 7.7 percent.

That would be mildly good news, but the problem is that:

Private-sector wages are rising, and last month’s jump of 1.63 percent over December 2011 is the biggest year-over-year increase since July. But the increases are still well below the inflation rate, indicating that wages are, as usual, falling in real terms for ordinary workers.


Worrying about the deficit does nothing about this, a stimulus is needed.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Can’t comment on the graph – well done and all that, but I tend to break out in hives when I see such things. It’s a reaction from too many meetings of double talk and BS.

    October through December are good for temp jobs in retail outlets, UPS, etc. December, especially, has never been a big hiring month. IIRC, it’s still slow in January and February, then picks up in March, but in the fields I’ve work, it doesn’t get really good until after 4/15.

    My comments are a bit regional. I now live where there is snow and cold. Those long gray days effect business. When living in ME for a bit, it was even more extreme. I grew up in Southern Cal where Sun or occasional rain are the norm. Things buzz a bit more there (or the buzz is within the people I knew :).

    There *are* many underemployed, but part of the problem is that a segment of the work force isn’t up to date on tech skills. From car mechanics to office personnel to sales people, if they haven’t kept up with programs and equipment specific to their industry, they will continue to lag. This is especially true for the over 50 crowd – some are still focused on working the on-off switch. Adult education or junior colleges offer help, or try asking a kid. If they are under 21, they still know it all.

  • The report is much worse if you look at the numbers which are not distorted by “seasonal adjustments,” the raw numbers of the Household Survey. The labor force increased by 192,000 but the number of employed by only 28,000, which is confirmed by an increase of 164,000 in the number of unemployed.

    There is no “slow” or “steady growth” in those numbers, it is all downhill.

    The number of jobs created at 155,000 is from the Market Survey which is gotten from interviewing retail establishmments. The media’s habit of reporting from one survey while linking to a different one and then mingling numbers fom both is misleading at best. The two surveys certainly seem to contradict each other on a very frequent basis.

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