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Unemployment ticks up to 8.3%, with 163,000 jobs added

A box for job seekers to leave resumes sits on a table at the National Career Fairs' San Francisco South Career Fair on July 16, 2012 in San Mateo, Calif.

Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It

The July jobs report from the Labor Department is out. Last month, unemployment rose from 8.2 to 8.3 percent, while 163,000 jobs were added -- the most in five months.

The private sector accounted for all the job creation, adding 172,000; government employment declined by 9,000.

Right after the numbers were released, we spoke with New York bureau chief Heidi Moore about whether we should be happy with the report.

"It shows, on average, exactly where we were last year," she points out, "but it's good because we're not losing that many jobs and that's excellent."

Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, agrees.

"Compared to where we were this is pretty good news," he says.

But there are still some parts of the numbers causing concern. Among them? The long-term unemployment figures, which actually dropped by 185,000 against the month prior.

"We do have a problem with the way employers are hiring." Cappelli says. "And that is that they're looking for somebody who can come in and be ready to do the job, as demonstrated by the fact that they're currently doing the same job someplace else."

Jeremy Hobson: The U.S. economy added 163,000 jobs last month. That's the word from the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department this morning. The private sector accounted for all the job creation, adding 172,000; government employment
declined by 9,000. And the unemployment rate ticked up from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent.

We're going to dig into the report now with our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore who's here in the studio with me. We've also got Peter Cappelli on the line. He's the director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Let me go to you, Heidi, first -- what else are you seeing in the report?

Heidi Moore: Well it's a really good report. You're seeing a lot of things have gone up: manufacturing, health care, leisure -- even computer systems design, so the geeks shall inherit the earth, at least in July. And what's really interesting is how granular the report is: in utilities, jobs were down by 8,500 people; that's because of the ConEd labor dispute here in New York. So you know, it's a really good report. It shows, on average, exactly where we were last year, but it's good because we're not losing that many jobs and that's excellent.

Hobson: Peter Cappelli, let me go to you -- what's your initial reaction to this report? Do you agree that it's a good report?

Peter Cappelli: Yeah, I think it's a good report. It largely depends on your expectations. You know, in May we only added 87,000 jobs, and in June we only added 64,000 jobs. So compared to where we were this is pretty good news.

Hobson: And you're the author of a book called "Why Good People Can't Get Jobs," so I want to ask you about some of these people who have been out of work for a long time -- the long-term unemployed. If the unemployment rate is ticking up from 8.2 to 8.3 percent, I guess that indicates more people are coming into the labor force. Will these long-term unemployed be able to get jobs at this point?

Cappelli: That's a great point. It looks like 260,000 people who have given up, who were discouraged workers, came back in this month which is, I suppose, a good sign. But the interesting news here is that the long-term unemployed -- 27 weeks or more of unemployment -- that dropped a lot: 185,000 people less than last month in that category. So that's pretty interesting news.

Hobson: Anything concerning in this to you?

Cappelli: Well, you know, I think in the long-term, we do have a problem with the way employers are hiring. And that is that they're looking for somebody who can come in and be ready to do the job, as demonstrated by the fact that they're currently doing the same job someplace else. And that typically meant they want to hire only people who are already employed someplace else. And I think that's been a concern for a while, but this time, actually, it looks pretty good, because the percentage of those people who are unemployed who are getting jobs long-term seems to be looking up.

Hobson: And Heidi, let me come back to you, because earlier this week we had the news that the Fed is going to hold off for now on any additional economic stimulus -- in part because they wanted to see what economic data comes out over the next little bit here. What do you think this jobs report does to the chances that the Fed is going to step in?

Moore: Well, this is a really positive report, so it reduces the chances that the Fed will feel pressure for stimulus. And it adds to other positive indicators we've had recently: housing looks like it's hit a bottom, consumer confidence is bizarrely high -- we don't know why. But all of those are really good indicators, and so it tells the Fed, maybe they don't need to step in just yet -- until the next jobs report.

Hobson: Does it look like this could be a turning point and that this global slowdown we've been talking about is, maybe, slowing down if you will? I mean, are things getting better or is are we putting too much into one jobs report?

Moore: Right, a slowdown on a slowdown is an improvement right? I think that we'll have to watch it. It's certainly encouraging, but you want to watch the trends over three, four, five, six months.

Hobson: Marketplace New York bureau chief Heidi Moore and Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, thanks to both of you.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.
Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It

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