Jobs Figures Stir Worries About Hiring Trends

By Staff
August 6, 2009

With economic data churning out on a daily basis, it's hard for job seekers to make sense of the information flood. Yet, one thing seems to be emerging clearly from recent employment figures: Employers are not coming close to creating enough jobs to make up for some 6.5 million lost since December 2007.

A recent news story from NPR contains this disturbing conclusion: "Instead of hiring more workers, businesses are operating with leaner, more efficient staffs." NPR reporter Frank Langfitt found a paradigm for this trend at Seibel's, a family-run restaurant in Burtonsville, MD that's been in operation for some 60 years.

Co-owner Lynn Martins, according to NPR, now has ten fewer employees on staff than before the recession hit. "We learned to do it with less people," Martins was quoted as saying. "They learned to cover more territory." For waiter Joey Rosenberg, 21, that now means busing his own tables and sweeping the restaurant floors, in addition to his principal task of waiting on the eatery's customers.

Meanwhile, figures released yesterday showed that the American private sector slashed more jobs than anticipated in July reports Reuters [from an article originally located at]. Employment cuts came in the service industry-which includes restaurants like Seibel's- for the second straight month, setting off worries about how robust the country's economic recovery really is.

U.S. businesses reduced their payrolls by 371,000 jobs in July, according to the ADP Employer Services report, written with the collaboration of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, according to Reuters. Last month's job losses dwarfed the 463,000 jobs that vanished the month before. Yet, July's downsizes exceeded projections by analysts who had foreseen only 345,000 job losses at midsummer.

On a more hopeful note, new unemployment insurance claims declined, according to the New York Times. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that first-time claims decreased to a seasonally adjusted 550,000 for the week ending on Aug. 1.

The numbers came in well below economists' predictions of 580,000, based on a survey by Thomson Reuters. The four-week average of claims, which analysts used to assess trends, fell to 555,250, its lowest level since late January. Still, last week's jobless claims continued to exceed the 300,000 to 350,000 that analysts say signals a strong economy. And a slight rise of 69,000 in the number of people who chose to stay on the unemployment insurance rolls reflects a job market that remains tight.

"We really think this is going to be a gradual and slow climb out of the hole," Kathy Page, a vice president at Manpower Inc., told NPR, noting the slow rate of hiring among Manpower's business clients.

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