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by SixFigureStart | June 05, 2009

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The employment picture brightened somewhat in May, although the unemployment rate (which reflects only the number of out-of-workers who are actively looking for a post) continued to soar. That figure jumped to 9.4%, a full 0.5% above April's level. Meanwhile, there were considerably fewer job losses (345,000) than were projected (525,000), less than half of January's mammoth figure of 741,000. (In addition, April's total was adjusted to 504,000 from 539,000.)

Though the number of job losses was the smallest number since September 2008, it has yet to account for the expected 20,000 GM-related cuts that will be carried out through the end of 2010. (These will affect its staff roster and dealerships, along with auto parts manufacturers and other businesses.) So, we're not out of the woods yet. The economy may be improving, but gains in employment will take time. Analysts estimate that another 2 million workers will find themselves jobless before this is all over, and think that the recovery will be slow as firms will try to manage increases in demand by stretching their current workforce for as long as practicable. The New York Times quoted Bernard Baumohl, managing director of the Economic Outlook Group, as saying, "(Job) growth is going to be very sluggish. Even when the economy begins to recover, we might be witnessing the mother of all jobless recoveries."

Since December 2007, more than 6 million people have cut from company payrolls, with 1.8 million of those in the manufacturing sector. The U.S. currently has 14 million unemployees (24 million if you count those full-timers who have had to settle for part-time jobs).

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer

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