What’s good about the jobless numbers

Jeremy Hobson Aug 7, 2009
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What’s good about the jobless numbers

Jeremy Hobson Aug 7, 2009
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: Employers cut far fewer jobs than expected last month and instead of rising, the July unemployment rate came down from 9.5% to 9.4%. That’s according to the Labor Department this morning.

Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson is with us live. Hello.

JEREMY HOBSON: Good morning, Bill.

RADKE: So how good is this news really?

Hobson: Well, we lost 247,000 jobs in July, and obviously if you’re one of the people who lost a job or you know someone — as many of us do — who lost a job in July, you’re saying how could you say that’s good news? Well here’s the reason. Because economists were expecting 330,000 — at the high level 330,000 jobs in July. We lost 443,000 in June. So the good news is the trajectory of job losses is now decidedly better than it was. We are slowing the number lost each month. And the hope is, Bill, that over the next several months the nation will actually start adding jobs again.

RADKE: So how does the unemployment rate drop if so many people got laid off last month?

Hobson: It’s a good question. And the answer is that the workforce dropped by 422,000 people. That means a lot of people have stopped looking for jobs. And that’s why a lot of economists say the actual unemployment is much higher than 9.4 percent, which is what the Labor Department says it is today. If you count the people who have given up looking for work, and the ones who aren’t working as many hours as they want to, you’re several percent higher than 9.4.

RADKE: And I understand the White House has come out and commented on this. What did they say?

Hobson: Yeah well the Treasury secretary had said before this number came out that the unemployment rate wouldn’t start to drop until next year. As we mentioned, it dropped just slightly today to 9.4 percent. But the White House is saying they still expect the number to eclipse 10 percent this year. And the reason for that is as those people who dropped out of the job market come back in, then you’re going to see that number go higher again.

RADKE: OK. Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson joining us live. Thanks.

Hobson: Thank you Bill.

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