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Friday, June 06, 2008

Jobs: Unemployment Rate Jumps to 5.5%

by Calculated Risk on 6/06/2008 08:43:00 AM

From the BLS: Employment Situation Summary

The unemployment rate rose from 5.0 to 5.5 percent in May, and nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend down (-49,000), the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. In May, employment continued to fall in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and temporary help services, while health care continued to add jobs.
The first graph shows the unemployment rate and the year-over-year change in employment vs. recessions.
Employment Measures and Recessions Click on graph for larger image.

Unemployment jumped sharply and the rise in unemployment, from a cycle low of 4.4% to 5.5%, is a strong recession indicator.

Also concerning is the YoY change in employment is close to zero (the economy has added only 236 thousand jobs in the last year), also suggesting a recession.

Note the current recession indicated on the graph is "probable", and is not official.

The second graph shows residential construction employment.

Residential Construction Employment Note: graph doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

Residential construction employment declined 25,100 in May, and including revisions to previous months, is down 494 thousand, or about 14.3%, from the peak in February 2006. (compared to housing starts off over 50%).

This is the fifth straight month of job losses. This is a weak report, and the jump in unemployment strongly suggests a recession.