The June employment report suggests that the alleged green shoots are mostly yellow weeds that may eventually turn into brown manure. The employment report shows that conditions in the labor market continue to be extremely weak, with job losses in June of over 460,000. With the current rate of job losses, it is very clear that the unemployment rate could reach 10% by later this summer--around August or September--and will be closer to 10.5%, if not 11%, by year-end. I expect the unemployment rate is going to peak at around 11% at some point in 2010, well above historical standards for even severe recessions.
It's clear that even if the recession were to be over anytime soon--and it's not going to be over before the end of the year--job losses are going to continue for at least another year and a half. Historically, during the last two recessions, job losses continued for at least a year and a half after the recession was over. During the 2001 recession, the recession was over in November 2001, and job losses continued through August 2003 for a cumulative loss of jobs of over 5 million; this time we are already seeing more than 6 million job losses and the recession is not over.
The details of the unemployment report are even worse than the headline. Not only are there large job losses right now, but as a way of sharing the pain, firms are inducing workers to reduce hours and hourly wages. Therefore, when we're looking at the effect of the labor market on labor income, we should consider that the total value of labor income is the product of jobs, hours and average hourly wages--and that all three elements are falling right now. So the effect on labor income is much more significant than job losses alone.
The details also suggest that other aspects of the labor markets are worsening. If you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers, the unemployment rate is already above 16%. If you consider also that temporary jobs are falling now quite sharply, labor market conditions are becoming worse and the average duration of unemployment now is at an all-time high. So people not only are losing jobs, but they're finding it harder to find new jobs. So every element of the labor market is worsening.
The unemployment rate rose only marginally from 9.4% to 9.5%, but that's because so many people are discouraged that they exited the labor force voluntarily and therefore are not counted in the official unemployment rate.