Today’s jobs report not a full view of U.S. employment

Mitchell Hartman Mar 9, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: We’re just 40 minutes away from the most important economic indicator of the month. The jobs report from the Labor Department for the month of February. Economists expect continued improvement in the job market, and perhaps another dip in the unemployment rate — which is currently at 8.3 percent.

But as Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman reports, today’s report won’t give us the entire employment picture.

Mitchell Hartman: The national figures only tell a piece of the story. There are places in the country that were hit hard by the crash in housing and construction — those jobs haven’t come back. In El Centro, Calif. and Yuma, Ariz., more than one in five residents is looking for work.

Then there are places where unemployment is down near 4 percent, around the lows we achieved before the Great Recession. We’ve heard about the Dakotas, where energy’s booming and it’s hard to find workers, not jobs. Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire are all below 6 percent — that’s specialty farming, agribusiness, high-tech.

For the national job market, though, there are two potential potholes ahead, says Paul Dales at Capital Economics.

Paul Dales: One is a spike in oil prices, and the second is perhaps a renewed escalation of the events in Europe. They are the biggest risks. They could easily put the brakes on the recovery in employment.

And for some groups, the situation appears to be getting worse — like African Americans, who are heavily concentrated in government employment, where payrolls have been shrinking.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.


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