To Kick Off the Labor Day Festivities, Some Grim Employment Statistics

  • Share
  • Read Later
Nick M Do / Getty Images

Labor Day weekend is celebrated in honor of workers everywhere. Now, if only there were more companies willing to do the honorable thing and put more workers to work …

Here’s a roundup of some of the latest (and generally depressing) statistics regarding the state of work:

0 The number of net jobs added in August in the U.S., according to the Labor Department. In other words, for every worker who found a new job last month, another was laid off.

1 Piece of unsolicited advice given to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which sent out yet another media advisory offering ideas to create jobs: “Shut up and hire somebody!”

(MORE: Labor Day Lament: How Come Everybody Works 12-Hour Days Now?)

1 in 6, 1 in 12 The ratio of middle-class jobs lost due to the recession in blue collar fields like production and machine operation, and white-collar careers such as sales and administrative, respectively, per an opus on the plight of the middle class in The Atlantic.

6 Number of reasons cited in an enormous Christian Science Monitor story as to why America is struggling so badly to put people to work. Reason #1 is dubbed the “rent-a-worker economy,” a.k.a., one in which employees might also be thought of as “disposable workers” or “permatemps.” In this increasingly popular system, employers hire contract workers when they’re needed to help with new initiatives and projects—and when the project is completed, the parties likely part ways and the worker returns back to the job hunt. This system works for many employers and employees (employers especially, who can invest in ventures without taking the risks involved in hiring full-time permanent employees), but it also creates an unstable workforce that can never assume a steady paycheck. And without a steady paycheck, these workers are more likely to be the kinds of sensibly cautious, prudent consumers being blamed for the slow economic recovery and cited as one of the reasons why employers aren’t hiring more full-time workers.

9 Earlier this year, the White House had forecast that the unemployment rate (currently 9.1%) would drop to 8.3% in 2012, and down to 5.3% in the years to come. In the latest White House forecast, however, with slow economic growth anticipated, the unemployment rate is expected to hover around a stubbornly high 9% well in 2012.

(MORE: How to Boost Your Income)

23 Percentage of senior business executives who admitted to playing favorites when determining promotions in a recent survey. Interestingly enough, 83% of these executives also said playing favorites often leads to poor business decisions.

31 Percentage of current part-time workers who’d prefer full-time jobs. Part-timers are more content with their status than a year ago, when 34% sought full-time employment—but not nearly as happy as they were before the recession, when only 19% of part-timers wished they could find full-time gigs.

63.5 Percentage of American men holding a job (full- or part-time) in July 2011. Among men in the prime working age range of 21 to 54, 81.2% were employed. These are among the lowest figures since the Great Depression. In 1969, by contrast, 95% of men ages 21-54 had jobs. At the same time, median real wages have decreased: After factoring in for inflation, median wages for men ages 30 to 50 dropped 27% from 1969 to 2009.

(MORE: Workplace Purgatory: Hating the Job, But Reluctant to Quit)

425,000, 300,000 Respectively, the number of state and local jobs cut since 2010, and the number of state and local jobs anticipated to be cut by the end of 2012.

More than 1 million Decrease in the number of self-employed Americans four years after start of the recession. Initially, the recession spurred a rise in self-employment: From late 2007 to July 2008, the number of people working for themselves increased from 15.7 million to 16.3 million. In July 2011, though, the self-employed ranks have retreated to 14.7 million. What explains the falloff? It’s hard to run a successful small business, especially at a time consumers are reluctant to spend.

14 million Number of Americans who are unemployed and can’t find work, nearly half of whom have been in this situation for at least six months. When the number of workers who are underemployed or who have given up looking for work are added in, the true unemployment total is well over 16 million.

(MORE: Q&A: ‘The Adventures of Unemployed Man’ Author Erich Origen)

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.