The ups and downs of the jobs report, at a glance

AP News
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Posted: Aug 05, 2011 6:27 PM
The ups and downs of the jobs report, at a glance

The government's monthly jobs report provides a wealth of information about the state of the economy. On balance, July's report was a good one, particularly compared with the dismal reports from the previous two months.

Still, each report has both positive and negative elements. Below are the good and the bad from Friday's jobs report:

THE GOOD:

_ The economy created more jobs. Employers added a net total of 117,000 in July, much more than in May or June and more than the 90,000 economists had expected for July.

_ Companies did even better. Businesses added 154,000 jobs, and the gains were widespread across many industries.

_ People with jobs made a bit more money. Average hourly wages moved up 10 cents, to $23.13 from $23.03, the biggest monthly gain since 2008.

_ Temporary hiring leveled off. Companies usually hire temp workers before adding full-time ones. So economists look at the temp figures as a sign of future trends. In the past three months, temp hiring fell, but in July it ticked up by about 300 jobs.

THE BAD:

_ There are still 13.9 million people unemployed. While down from about 14.1 million the previous month, that's far higher than the 7.6 million unemployed when the recession began.

_ The unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. That is also down, from 9.2 percent in June, but is still shockingly high given that the recession officially ended two years ago. The rate has been above 9 percent every month but two since then.

_ Fewer Americans have jobs. The proportion of the population that has a job fell in July to the lowest level in 28 years: 58.1 percent. It's fallen so low in part because millions of Americans have given up looking for work. These people are not included in the unemployment rate.

_ More than 25 million Americans are either unemployed, or have given up looking, or are working part time but would prefer a full-time job. That means the so-called "under-employment" rate is 16.1 percent, down only slightly from 16.2 percent in June.