The May jobs numbers – with a net growth of 175,000 jobs – shows an economy that is treading water. There is no change in the unemployment rate or number of unemployed, no change in number of long-term unemployed.
Worse, there is no change in the employment-population ratio, which “has shown little movement” over the past year. Labor force participation rate similarly is unchanged, and slightly down for the year.
There is no sight of any relief on jobs. The jobs that are being created are primarily in business services, “food services and drinking places,” and retail trade. These tend to be low-paid, part-time jobs with few benefits. With Americans still struggling with mass unemployment, at least they will have more people serving them at “drinking places.”
Federal government employment is down, as the sequester and budget cuts take effect. We’ve lost 17,000 manufacturing jobs in the past two months, and there’s been virtually no growth in construction jobs.
This is a national emergency and a human tragedy. More than 20 million people remain in need of full-time work. A young generation is graduating into the worst jobs market since the Great Depression. It is long past time for Washington to stop treating this reality as normal and start treating it as a crisis. Austerity lite is failing here, just as austerity has failed in Europe. It is time for Congress to stop its slash and ruin policies, and start rebuilding the country and putting people back to work.