This Week in Mostly Awful Job News

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Plummeting employee moral, the job fair cancelled because of lack of jobs, a study showing that crappy jobs are as bad for your mental health as being unemployed, and more.
When hosting a job fair, it’s nice if jobs are available.
An annual job fair in Taunton, Mass., scheduled for early April, had to be cancelled because of lack of jobs. The fair, which has been held since 1984, needs at least 20 to 25 employers, but by late last week only 10 tables had been reserved—and one of those tables was held by a nonprofit human services organization, not an employer. Three of the other tables were reserved by temp agencies.

Overall, though, new claims for unemployment benefits declined slightly.
In the past eight weeks, the average weekly number of new unemployment claims has dropped 8%. Employers were expected to have added 185,000 jobs in March, down slightly from February, when 192,000 jobs were added. Still, the unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.9%. [CORRECTION: The just-announced unemployment rate for March is actually 8.8%.]

But a huge “hidden” workforce isn’t counted in those unemployment figures.
A Washington Post story from a couple weeks ago focuses on people who are unemployed but have given up looking for work—and therefore aren’t counted in the Labor Deparment’s monthly unemployment numbers. The number of people who fit this category is estimated to be 6.4 million, which is up 30% since the beginning of the recession. If these people were counted, the jobless rate for February (and presumably, March) would be 10.5%.

Even if you’re earning three times the poverty level, you’re still just scraping by.
A new study from Wider Opportunities for Women (featured in today’s NY Times) says that to achieve economic stability—covering housing, utilities, health care, food, and some savings for retirement and emergencies—a single worker needs to earn a bit over $14 an hour, or around $30K annually. The national poverty level for an individual is annual income of $10,830. While the median household income in the U.S. is roughly $50K, a family with two kids needs to make around $68,000 a year to be considered economically stable. The poverty level for that family of four is about $22K.

Employee morale is hitting rock bottom.
When the recession hit, those lucky enough to still be earning salaries were happy to have avoided layoffs. Now, however, after years of wage freezes, skimpy or nonexistent bonuses, long hours, and heavier workloads—somebody has to take over the duties of all those laid-off colleagues—employees have moved beyond the “just happy to have a job” phase. Employee loyalty is at a three-year low, per surveys cited by USA Today. Accordingly, more than one-third of currently employed workers hope to find new jobs in the next 12 months. In a way, this is good news: People have to feel pretty good about the employment market to start job hopping again after burrowing in for months of no-risk career monogamy. (Tip: Some lies to tell your boss so he doesn’t know you’re looking for another job.)

Some jobs as bad for your mental health as being unemployed.
Another study, summed up by the WSJ’s Juggle blog, demonstrates that in terms of mental health, sometimes it’s better to be unemployed rather than have an awful job. The unemployed were shown to have better or comparable mental health and happiness levels as workers with poor-quality jobs. Such a job is described as having “high demands, low pay and a lack of autonomy and security.” That’s a description that might unfortunately sound familiar, and that’s why (see above) worker morale levels are tanking.

But median pay for one group of workers increased by 27% in 2010.
What group of workers could this be? They’re called CEOs.

Unemployment by the Numbers