Friday, October 5, 2012

Press Release on drop in unemployment rate

Stone Riley, a member of the Worcester Unemployment Action Group (WUAG), said:  "We hope that the reported decline in the unemployment rate is real, but the detail figures behind the headlines are confusing, contradictory and vague.  Even if the decline is real we note with concern that the improvement has not been shared by Black and Latino workers - a reflection of widespread discrimination in the job market along many lines, including age, CORI status, credit scores and - incredibly - duration of unemployment."

Chris Horton, a volunteer organizer for WUAG, noted: "We are deeply puzzled by the new BLS figures.  The Employer Survey found an increase in the number of jobs of 114,000.  Since the monthly increase in the adult population is about 87,000, so if we assume no big change in the proportion of people with two jobs, the decrease in the number of unemployed was maybe 27,000.   The Household Survey's 0.3% decrease in the unemployment rate translates into about 450,000 more people with jobs, which is far out of line with the Employer Survey results.

Mr. Horton continued: "The Household Survey reported a big decrease in the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs.  This again is not supported by the Employer Survey data."

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project said: “Major indicators improved, but we cannot afford to ignore the long-term unemployed—the 40 percent of the unemployed who’ve been out of work six months or longer. They’re about to reach the edge of a real and enormous financial cliff at the end of December, when the federal extended unemployment program is slated to expire. Failure of Congress to renew the program will immediately pull the rug out from under two million unemployed Americans, an unconscionable result we cannot and should not tolerate." 

The BLS reported that "The number of … involuntary part-time workers rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September."  Mr. Horton commented: "this would mean that all of the increase in the number employed would be in this category, plus another 150,000 moving from full time to part time status involuntarily.  We have seen some increase in people finding part time jobs.  However the Employer survey shows the average workweek increasing by 0.1% over the month, with factory overtime unchanged.  Unfortunately, much as we would like to see a ray of hope, we find the results of this Household Survey to not be credible." 

"The official unemployment rate", Mr. Horton continued, "is inherently misleading in that it excludes perhaps two-thirds of those who want and would take a job.  This makes using it to identify trends inherently difficult, and helps mask the need to take the unemployment crisis as the national emergency that it is."

The Worcester Unemployment Action Group, founded in February 2012, is an all-volunteer association of unemployed working people.  Its statement of purpose describes it as “dedicated to winning an economy with well-paid socially useful work for all and decent support for the unemployed. We seek to hold public and elected officials accountable to all the people, including the unemployed.  We organize mutual support groups, public forums, demonstrations and media events, and we work to bring about changes in policies and laws.”
Please feel free to contact WUAG to request being put in touch with unemployed members who have agreed to give interviews.

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