Economist: Jobs Report 'Masks' Key Statistic

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Even though employers created more jobs than expected throughout the country last month, an economist in Indiana says the U.S. "is in a bad economic environment." Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mike Hicks says the federal jobs report "masks" the loss of another 700,00 adults from the labor force. The U.S. Department of Labor says employers added 204,000 jobs in October, but the national unemployment rate ticked up to 7.3 percent. November 8, 2013

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(Muncie, Ind.) - Despite adding more jobs than expected in October, Ball State University economist Michael Hicks says today’s employment report indicates the nation is in a bad economic environment.

“The top line figure of 200,000 jobs is a lot better than in past months, but that number masks the loss of another 700,000 adults from the labor force,” says Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “When three people quit looking for work for every adult who finds a job, we are in a very bad economic environment.

“Even more disheartening than the continued slide in the civilian labor force, more than six out of every 10 new jobs created was involuntary part-time employment. Moreover, two of the three biggest job gainers were the sectors of retail stores and restaurants.”

The U.S. Labor Department reported today a net 204,000 new jobs created for the month, though the unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent, reflecting an increase in the number of people who quit looking for work and the impact of the recent shutdown of the federal government. Economists had anticipated about 120,000 jobs being created last month.

Hicks points out that the only bright spot was the continued recovery of manufacturing employment, which grew by 35,000 new jobs last month.

“This suggests that the employment picture for manufacturing states like Indiana will continue to improve even as the rest of the nation is stuck in neutral with the Fed stomping on the accelerator,” he says.Source: Ball State University