The Labor Department released a report today indicating one previously robust aspect of the economy is looking pretty bleak: In the last month, hiring dropped off while unemployment remained steady. Not only that, but the labor participation rate has also fallen (the number of people who indicate they either have jobs or are searching for a job if they’re unemployed), and there are numbers indicating unemployment among black Americans is at “crisis level,” and the gap between white and black Americans in terms of employment has grown.
It can feel strange to read about the economy, like the numbers are hiding the truth. Isn’t there a way to say: For some reason employers aren’t hiring black people or, I dunno, maybe companies should be taking all those tax breaks they’re getting and use that extra cushion to hire people? But perhaps that’s naive. And perhaps that average 7-cent-per-hour wage increase for all private sector employees is pretty paltry (see: the fast food worker-led protest that went down yesterday in Midtown against McDonald’s laughable $1 wage increase). One thing’s for sure though: 2.6 million people in the United States remained long-term unemployed.
But according to Bloomberg, these depressing numbers had a whole lot to do with the hellish winter we (being among the “unfortunate parts of the country”) have only just conquered. We think it’s maybe, hopefully safe to say winter’s all over by now, right? Right. Bloomberg points out that more than 40,000 additional workers beyond the average for this figure reported they couldn’t work in March due to the weather and suggests that number could be a big indicator of why job growth was nil.
Stats showing the slowest growth of all happened in construction and leisure & hospitality, which are among the most weather-sensitive industries—yet another indicator that old dirty bastard winter was to blame for an ailing aspect of our economy.
And looking around at some of the recent businesses to close in Brooklyn—606 R&D in Prospect Heights, for one—many of them blamed the relentlessly terrible winter weather. However one thing Bloomberg fails to account for in the labor report is that you can’t blame racial injustice in hiring practices and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor on the weather. Mayor de Blasio had some words for the depressing stats:
“The Labor Department’s latest report underscores the crisis facing families around the country: even as the economy picked up, most Americans’ incomes continued to fall – and the wealthiest continued to see theirs rise. The jobs report out today only reinforces that fact. Far too many Americans are being left behind in this recovery. More than anything, these reports make clear why our national leaders must tackle income inequality head on, and present a holistic vision to bridge the gap and lift up all families.”
Preach Mr. Mayor, now get us more jobs; New York City still has some of the highest unemployment rates in the state.