Today’s much anticipated U.S. jobs reports was a mixed blessing. Only 96,000 new jobs were created in August according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 30,000 fewer than had been anticipated for the month.
The unemployment rate did drop .2 percent, down to 8.1 percent, but that came in part as a result of people who are no longer looking for work. The Associated Press reports:
In addition to those who’ve given up looking for work, many young Americans are avoiding the job market by remaining in school. All told, the proportion of the population that is either working or looking for work fell to 63.5 percent. That’s the lowest level in 31 years for the labor force participation rate.
The dropping unemployment rate could be a double-edged sword for those still without jobs. Those who have exhausted their searches and those who are more recently unemployed will have even fewer resources to stay on their feet in a market where job growth is slow.
The unemployment rate for adult women is 7.3 percent, just a few tenths of a percent lower than adult men. However, it’s a number that some analysts believe could drastically change if people continue to drop out of the job search. According to Businessweek, childcare, an industry that is almost entirely staffed by women, continues to drop as more workers out of work mean less children requiring daycare.
[S]lackening demand for childcare workers contributes to unemployment for women, who account for more than nine of every 10 jobs in the industry, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Payrolls in childcare rose to 833,300 from the previous month’s five-year-low of 829,600.
“Every time a child is withdrawn and childcare workers get laid off, that obviously impedes the recovery,” said Barbara Bergmann, an economics professor emerita at American University in Washington who has studied economic and social policy issues for more than 50 years. “The recovery depends on increasing the demand for goods and services,” and the industry’s decline has a particularly negative impact because childcare is “extremely expensive,” she said.
A “Generation Opportunity” poll notes that numerous younger women are saying that they will put off key life changes due to economic uncertainty and a poor job market. Almost 30 percent stated that they were putting off starting a family due to economic reasons, while 90 percent pointed to a variety of day to day living expenses that they had cut in order to have more economic stability. The vast number of those who are avoiding pregnancy or reducing basic costs make it clear just how important issues like more accessible preventative care, health insurance expansion not based on employment and no co-pay birth control will be as the economy continues down the slow path of recovery.