JEFFREY BROWN: There was good news today on the jobs front. The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 195,000 jobs in June, well above forecasts. The unemployment rate remained at 7.6 percent, as more people came into the job market, another positive sign. Additionally, figures from April and May were revised upward. The increase means on average 202,000 jobs were added each month in the first half of 2013.
Stocks rose on the news. On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 147 points to close above 15,135. The Nasdaq rose nearly 36 points to close at 3,479. For the week, the Dow gained 1.5 percent. The Nasdaq rose two percent.
And joining us from Boston now is economist Catherine Mann of the Brandeis International Business School at Brandeis University.
Well, welcome to you. So, better than expected. What jumps out at you as most promising in these numbers?
CATHERINE MANN, Professor of Economics, Brandeis University International Business School: Well, you know the top-line numbers really are very good, as you noted there, over 200,000 jobs created over the last half of the year. That’s about that magic number of 200,000 that we have been waiting for that is trying to propel the economy forward and lower the unemployment rate.
But there is this conundrum that we haven’t seen a decline in the unemployment rate yet. You know, there are some good other signs if we look down into the guts, as you said, the revisions, the upward revisions. Also, one of the things that I think is notable is that the number of people who are leaving jobs in order to get new ones has actually gone up. This is a good sign because it means that people are confident that if they choose to leave a job voluntarily that they will be able to find a new one.
But there are some negative aspects to the report as well, though.
JEFFREY BROWN: But, before you get there, what about — let’s — tell us about some of the sectors. I mean, one area that was down, surprisingly I suppose in some ways, is manufacturing, because we often look to it as a bellwether. Another area continued down is the public sector jobs.
CATHERINE MANN: Well, we know why the public sector is down, you know, between the sequester, where jobs that are not the — people are leaving and they’re not being refilled, although at the federal level, most of the sequester is still being handled through furlough, as opposed to through actually firing people.
At the state and local level, there’s a little bit of a bright spot, if you’re in education, at least, that state and local jobs are up about 15,000 at the non-education component of state and local government.
But with regard to the private sector, you know, the decomposition between manufacturing and some of the other services sector, you know, manufacturing has been in the lead. It came out of the recession and added jobs much more quickly than did the services sector. I think many people were surprised about that.
Autos was a major component of that, as well as exports. Exports — of course, we export a lot of manufactured products. It’s one of our major categories. And early in the recovery, the rest of the world was doing relatively well. And exports contributed dramatically to our GDP growth, one percentage point or more.
And so not surprisingly, there was a ramp-up for manufacturing employment. The global economy is not as strong as it was before. Domestic business investment has continued to be quite weak. And you put those two things together and that explains this little bit of a pullback, a 6,000- or 7,000-job pullback in manufacturing.
Now, if we look at the sectors on the services side, there’s really a bifurcation, in that there are a range of services associated with either building or moving things around, transportation, utilities, mining and those sorts of things. Those jobs have been weak. Those are negatives for the month. Services, for example, leisure hospitality, food away from home, health, a little bit on finance, only 17,000.
What I see in terms of leisure and hospitality is that there are people out there who finally do want to go out for a restaurant meal, they do want to go for a little summer vacation. They have not been doing that for the last couple of years. They’re looking at it as now I can — things are a little bit better. My confidence is a little bit up. I can go out and have a meal, buy a little extra summer vacation.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask you about another important aspect to this, because one of the key things hanging in the balance, of course, is the Federal Reserve and when it will start to pull back on its stimulus. A lot of people waiting to see, and no doubt they’re watching the unemployment number. How does a number like this fit in to that question of when they might start doing it?
CATHERINE MANN: Well, I think the Federal Reserve, and other members of the FOMC and the Federal Reserve Bank presidents who have been speaking about this question, I think they are looking at a lot of the guts of the 6.5 percent threshold for the unemployment rate that’s very much, you know, in the FOMC statement.
And some of those guts actually are not very good-looking when we look at what we have on the top-line number. Top line’s good, guts not so good. In particular, 300,000 people compared to last year are holding multiple jobs. Does that mean that they — you know, it’s good that they can get a second job, I suppose. But does that mean they’re not really earning enough at their first job in order to maintain their lifestyle?
About 300,000 are part-time for reasons associated with enemy combatant — a strong — a weak economy. In other words, they would be in a full-time job if they could find one, but they can’t find one, so they are part-time for economic reasons. That is not a good number.
And, of course, the number that continues to really weigh on the overall unemployment rate is that we have got 40 percent, almost 40 percent of the people who are unemployed have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. These are those long-term unemployed. And getting them back into being unemployed status is really crucial.
If we were similar to our historical experience with regard to characteristics of the unemployed, we probably would be very close to 6.5 percent threshold right now. So, getting the long-term unemployed back in the office or on the assembly line or building something, that’s crucial.
And I think the Federal Reserve is looking at those kinds of issues, unemployed for long-term, unemployed for economic reasons, or multiple jobs. They’re looking at those components to determine what they’re going to do.
JEFFREY BROWN: OK. Yes.
All right, well, Catherine Mann at Brandeis University, thank you very much.
CATHERINE MANN: You’re welcome.