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Job growth continues to slug along

Ronald Baker speaks with a job recruiter as he looks for a job at a job fair in the James L. Knight Center in Miami, Florida.

Steve Chiotakis: A couple of jobs reports out this morning paint a mixed view of the employment market. Consultants Challenger, Gray and Christmas said employers are cutting back on layoffs for the first time this summer. And yet another report showed private sector job growth slowed this month -- August. All this ahead of the data point most economists view as the most important of the month -- the Labor Department's employment report.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh is with us live here in our Los Angeles studio to help
paint this jobs picture for us, a pretty complicated one. Hi, Eve.

Eve Troeh: Hey Steve.

Chiotakis: So layoffs were crawling up all summer -- but August was down, a bit. What happened?

Troeh: Well, I guess you could say things aren't as bad as they could've been, is one way to look at it.

Chiotakis: Yeah, the optimist, are you?

Troeh: As for what happened, we might know a little more on that on Friday. But August saw fewer layoffs than July, and you're right -- they have been going up, up, up, up since May -- so it looks like we've finally broken that trend. We are on the way down. But we did still see 51,000 planned layoffs in August, and that's more layoffs than we saw a year ago.

John Challenger this morning said lots of the jobs lost are in one area, and his firm Challenger Gray and Christmas has its layoff report today.

John Challenger: Government announced plans to cut 18,000 workers, nearly double what we saw in July. And unlike previous months, these announcements weren't dominated by state and local agencies. It was the Federal level that led the way.

So, lots of civilian and soldier cuts in the military, he says. But the good news -- you know, many private companies are keeping their current employees, it looks like.

Chiotakis: Fewer layoffs is good, right Eve? But people out of work and they still need the economy to add jobs. So how are things looking on that front?

Troeh: Well, we can learn a little bit from the payroll processing company ADP on that. Every month it puts out a report based on private companies' payroll numbers. In August, it shows 91,000 net jobs added. Now, that does not include government jobs, just private jobs -- so that's where we heard most of the bad news is. And 91,000 jobs is fewer than we added last month, also fewer than economists were predicting -- hoping.

Ben Herzon is with Macroeconomic Advisers. They're sort of the executive producers of this report. And they say overall, we're pretty much breaking even.

Ben Herzon: And it's been the case over the last several months that job additions have just barely exceeded job losses, and we don't see anything different from that trend in today's data.

So there's growth, but you know if you were walking on that job line on the graph, it' would just feel totally flat -- you would not be feelig a burn.

Chiotakis: You're not going up or down?

Troeh: No.

Chiotakis: Marketplace's Eve Troeh here in the studio with us. Eve, thanks.

Troeh: Eve, thanks.

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