By Dr. Joe Webb on March 7th, 2014
Just like last month, today’s unemployment report was relatively benign, with, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics own words, “the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.7 percent.” The payroll survey was up +175,000, but the household survey was up only +42,000. The unemployment rate increased because the household survey, on which the rate calculation is based, had an increase in the labor force of +264,000. That increase was more than the entire increase in the labor force for the last 12 months. One of the signs of a recessionary period ending is, paradoxically, the unemployment rate increasing for a short time, as an increasing number of jobs attract workers to the marketplace. Confirmation of that would be a decrease in the number of unemployed, but went up by +223,000.
One intriguing aspect of the report is that the workweek decreased by half an hour, which is a large amount for this data series that bounces only +/- 0.1 most times. The hourly wage increased from $20.00 to $20.50, a +2.5% increase, which exceeds the inflation rate, and is good for workers. Because the number of hours decreased, so actual take-home pay increased by just less than +1%. That means that on an inflation-adjusted basis, workers buying power from their wages decreased about -0.7%. Recent delays in ACA implementation may encourage employers to push hours up again; that is worth watching in upcoming reports.
Closer to home, printing industry employment decreased by 400 workers since January, and the annual pace of decrease remained -2.8%. Employment in periodicals (mainly magazine publishers) decreased since January 2013 by 4,200 workers (-3.5%). Advertising employment is still growing, with its star continuing to be public relations employment, increasing by 2,800 employees since January 2013. Advertising employment passed printing employment in the middle of 2013. The media shift from paid (magazine and newspaper space, broadcast) to earned and other digital media (social media, content marketing, and others) continues to restructure communications media employment. (click chart to enlarge)
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