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The Numbers: Opinions Vary on Meaning of Recent Employment Figures

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(Photo: © iStockphoto.com/CTRd)

Jean Teller |

CHICAGO — WHILE A POSITIVE SPIN came from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in July regarding the current state of the U.S. labor market, others were considerably more pessimistic.

In a statement, Solis says, “Our nation’s labor market added 80,000 jobs in the month of June, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2%. We have seen 28 straight months of private-sector job growth, during which time our economy has added back close to 4.4 million private-sector jobs, with nearly one million jobs added this year.”

For the other side, Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis with The Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association, comments, “The slow labor market improvement … once again confirms that the better payroll increases in the beginning of the year were another false start. The pullback marks the third straight disappointing year.”

PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES added jobs, says a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while employment in other industries remained the same. The number of unemployed is sitting at 12.7 million, with second-quarter growth averaging 75,000 jobs per month. That compares to an average gain each month of 226,000 jobs in the first quarter.

NEW FORECLOSURES WERE UP 9.12% in May, according to RealtyTrac, to 205,990 compared with 188,780 in April.

IN AN EFFORT TO HELP the economy, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced plans to open four new regional offices for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The four offices—in or near Dallas, Denver, Detroit, and Silicon Valley, Calif.—will allow American innovators to more easily apply for patents, fostering an atmosphere that will hopefully create new economic opportunities in the four regions.

U.S. CONSUMER CONFIDENCE TOOK a strong hit in June, according to the Surveys of Consumers from Thomson Reuters and The University of Michigan. The survey showed a significant downturn, in particular in households with incomes above $75,000. Lower-income households, on the other hand, showed a slightly more favorable outlook in light of recent declines in gas prices.

Surveys of Consumers Chief Economist Richard Curtin says, “The sharp declines among upper-income households … may have a greater impact on the economy since their spending accounts for a large share of the total. The June loss among higher-income households was associated with a large drop in favorable ratings of economic policies and a growing recognition that federal policies to bridge the fiscal cliff will not even be discussed until the very last minutes.”

About the author

Jean Teller

Contributing Editor, American Trade Magazines

Jean Teller is contributing editor at American Trade Magazines. She can be contacted at jteller@americantrademagazines.com.

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