Jobs & Unemployment Both Up

More than half the states added jobs in October. More than half also saw unemployment rise in the month, according to data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The apparent contradiction arose because  employers aren’t adding enough jobs to keep pace with a growing labor force.  Still, the news is a glimmer of hope.

Twenty eight states saw a job increase, up from only seven in September. Unemployment rose in 29 states. Michigan still had the highest unemployment rate at 15.1%, a 2/10th of a percent point drop after adding 38,600 jobs from the month before. Michigan has the highest jobless rate, followed by Nevada at 13%, Rhode Island at 12.9%, California at 12.5%, and South Carolina at 12.1%. California, Delaware, Florida, and Washington DC had their highest unemployment since 1976. Fourteen states are now coping with a double digit unemployment rate. Compared to last October, all fifty states and the District of Columbia showed an increase in unemployment.

Although the initial wave of foreclosures was blamed on sub prime loans and adjustable rate mortgage resets, current problems are attributed to increasing unemployment, a lagging economic indicator.  The third quarter of 2009 was the worst for foreclosures in US history, with 937,840 homes receiving a foreclosure letter.

Meanwhile, the White House is in the midst of planning a December job creation summit, drawing together government officials, corporate executives, labor unions and small businessmen as the administration seeks to put more Americans to work. The White House claims that the stimulus package created or saved more than 650,000 jobs. Still, as President Obama puts it, the administration’s efforts have  “not yet led to the job growth we desperately need.”

President Obama’s allies in the Congressional Black Caucus expressed their frustration with even higher rates of minority unemployment, by using a procedural maneuver to delay approval of the President’s financial reform package by a House Committee.

Republicans stepped up their attacks on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. In a hearing with the secretary yesterday, the ranking Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas, called for Geithner’s resignation. “It’s appropriate for the American people to assess how well the administration’s economic policies are working. They are not. They have failed.”

Congress has good reason to be nervous. The entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are up for reelection next year, before most analysts predict that job losses will be substantially reversed. Traditionally, the party in power tends to see an erosion of seats in a mid term elections, but the scope of the economic crisis and the slow pace of recovery do not bode well for the Democratic Party’s chances in 2010. “We are open to any demonstrably good idea to supplement the steps we’ve already taken to put America back to work,” President Obama said.

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