From now on, I will include a blog segment analyzing the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly Employment Outlook. By far the most comprehensive gathering of economic indicators, BLS is the must-stop shop for any and all information concerning historical inflation, (un)employment information, and more. The organization puts out around ten publications per month, mostly covering national and regional employment numbers, but ranging from the import price index to the consumer price index. While it may not explain what the numbers mean for the future of our economy, I will try because that's what I'm here for. With no further ado, the Employment Outlook for the month of September 2005.
After a 12-month period ending in August of this year where payroll employment jumped an average of 194,000 per month and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.5% from 5.4 to 4.9, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had their effect on employment in September. The nation lost 35,000 payroll jobs and saw unemployment rise 0.2% (mostly among white adults, African-American unemployment fell 0.2% and the teen rate fell 0.7%).
This is so much better than anyone could have expected. While we didn't manage to keep the numbers positive, the complete shutdown of a major city could have easily resulted in a much larger dive in employment. Especially encouraging is the fact that the unemployment rate fell for black adults, even though they represented the majority of hurricane victims. Still, the numbers are far from acceptable, with the black unemployment rate still double that of whites and Asian-Americans and 3% higher than the hispanic rate.
What we can expect in the months to come, with September typically being an off month for the stock market and the job market, is a revitalization of the manufacturing and construction industries. With so much rebuilding needed in the hardest-hit areas of the Gulf Coast, large-scale construction efforts will pick up many unemployed tradesmen and artisans with experience in the industry. Also, there will be an increased demand for construction equipment and materials for building which should have a positive effect on the manufacturing industry. Furthermore, other industries seem to be unaffected and will hopefully pull the economy out of this rut and back into prosperity. Expect investment to help fuel a quick economic recovery after these disasters with many investors eyeing the oil & gas, and construction markets with fevered intensity.
Next Employment Outlook Release: November 4th (October 2005)