Zero job growth in August affects workers and the unemployed

Job seekers

Employment lines are no shorter than they were last month. Image: aflcio/Flickr/CC BY

No new jobs were added to the U.S. economy in August. Unemployment figures have stalled at 9.1 percent as the nation’s economic recovery remains stagnant. Not only does this bode poorly for those seeking work, it negatively affects the employed as well.

First time since World War II

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday reported the worst numbers in 11 months, and the first month of zero job growth since World War II.

Part of the weak showing can be attributed to the 45,000 striking Verizon workers, but the big picture is still very bleak. Small job gains in June and July and a rebound in manufacturing gave analysts some hope. But new manufacturing orders have shrunk, along with that optimism.

The report showed that the number of people who have been out of work for six months or longer is now more than 6 million. The number of those who are no longer looking for work has climbed to 16.2 percent.

Job-seekers losing hope

According to Carl E. Van Horn, a labor economist at Rutgers University, job-seekers are losing hope. “Their optimism has been crushed by reality,” he said. “They are still not working, or if they are working they’re making a lot less money. You’re either devastated, or you’re hurting — that’s the range.”

‘Doesn’t just hurt the unemployed’

“High unemployment doesn’t just hurt the unemployed,” said economist Jared Bernstein. “It hurts jobs holders as well because of the absence of any pressure on wage growth. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Wages and hours shrink

Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., said:

“Though much attention is being paid to zero job growth in August, the real news in today’s numbers is that job growth is worse than in recent months, and the nation continues to produce far fewer jobs than needed to meaningfully reduce the unemployment rate. In fact, in some ways the report was less than zero in that weekly hours fell, as did hourly earnings.”

The average hourly earning of American workers dropped three cents in August to $23.09. The average weekly hours worked slid down to 34.2.

President Obama will outline the administration’s plans for futures job growth to Congress on Thursday.



Huffington Post


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