Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release


Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
                                
                          Statement of
                                
                           Keith Hall
                          Commissioner
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                
                           before the
                    Joint Economic Committee
                     UNITED STATES CONGRESS

                    Friday, December 5, 2008


Madam Chair and Members of the Committee:

     Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the employment and
unemployment data we released this morning.
     
     Nonfarm payroll employment declined by 533,000 in November,
with large and widespread losses occurring across the major
industry sectors.  November's drop in payroll employment followed
declines of 403,000 in September and 320,000 in October, as
revised.   The unemployment rate, at 6.7 percent, continued to
trend up in November and has risen by 1.7 percentage points since
the recession started in December 2007 (as designated by the
National Bureau of Economic Research).
     
     Over the past 3 months, job losses have averaged 419,000 per
month, sharply higher than the average loss of 82,000 per month
from January through August.  About two-thirds of the recent job
declines have occurred in the service-providing sector of the
economy.  In the first 8 months of this year, job losses were
largely limited to construction and manufacturing.
     
     Manufacturing job losses continued in November (-85,000).
Factory job losses would have been larger were it not for the
return to work of 27,000 aerospace workers who had been on
strike.  Over the month, employment declines occurred throughout
the manufacturing sector.  Motor vehicle and parts manufacturers
shed 13,000 jobs over the month; employment in this industry has
fallen by 135,000 since December.  Manufacturing hours and
overtime each declined by 0.2 hour in November.
     
     Construction employment was down by 82,000 over the month.
Since a peak in September 2006, employment in this industry has
fallen by 780,000, largely in the residential sector.  Over the
past 3 months, job losses have been evenly distributed between
residential and nonresidential construction.
     
     Employment also declined throughout the service-providing
sector.  The largest loss (-101,000) was in employment services,
which includes temporary help agencies.  Employment services has
lost 495,000 jobs so far in 2008.
     
     Retail trade employment fell by 91,000 in November, with the
largest job loss among automobile dealers (-24,000); since
December, auto dealers have shed 115,000 jobs.  Employment also
decreased after seasonal adjustment in clothing stores; sporting
goods, hobby, book, and music stores; and furniture and home
furnishings stores.  Wholesale trade employment fell by 25,000 in
November and by 123,000 so far in 2008.
     
     Leisure and hospitality employment contracted by 76,000 in
November; the accommodation and food services industry accounted
for most of the decrease.  Elsewhere in the service-providing
sector, sizable employment declines also occurred in financial
activities (-32,000), transportation and warehousing (-32,000),
and information (-19,000).
     
     In contrast to most industries, health care added jobs in
November.  Employment in the industry rose by 34,000 over the
month and has increased by 341,000 so far this year.  The
November gain reflected jobs added in nursing and residential
care facilities, hospitals, and offices of physicians.
     
     Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory
workers in the private sector rose by 7 cents, or 0.4 percent, in
November.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have
increased by 3.7 percent.  From October 2007 to October 2008, the
Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers
(CPI-W) rose by 3.8 percent.
     
     Turning to labor market measures from the survey of
households, the unemployment rate continued to increase in
November.  At 6.7 percent, the rate was up by 0.2 percentage
point over the month and by 1.7 percentage points since December.
     
     In November, 10.3 million persons were unemployed, up by 2.7
million from December.  About 2.2 million of the unemployed in
November had been jobless for 27 weeks or more, an increase of
868,000 thus far in 2008.
     
     Both the labor force participation rate, at 65.8 percent,
and the employment-population ratio, at 61.4 percent, decreased
over the month.  The employment-population ratio has declined by
1.3 percentage points since December.
     
     The number of persons working part time who would have
preferred full-time employment increased by 621,000 in November
to 7.3 million.  Thus far in 2008, the number of such workers has
grown by nearly 2.7 million.
     
     In summary, nonfarm payroll employment declined by 533,000
in November after having fallen by 723,000 over the prior 2
months combined.  The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent in
November, 1.7 percentage points above the December rate.
     
     My colleagues and I now would be glad to answer your
questions.
     





Last Modified Date: December 05, 2008
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