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5 trends beneath the surface in Nov. jobs report

First Published Dec 08 2013 11:04AM      Last Updated Dec 08 2013 01:59 pm

Washington • As the U.S. job market improves, it’s also evolving, with winners and losers.

Warehouses and trucking companies are doing more holiday hiring than the stores they’re working for.

Factory workers are getting more overtime, while pay is nearly flat for hotel and restaurant employees. Retirement-age Americans are staying on the job.

And for people who’ve been out of work for more than six months, the outlook has gone from painful to desperate.

Here’s a look at five trends that emerge from the November employment report released Friday:

— HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Hiring typically gets a boost from the holiday season. But online shopping has changed the mix. Take a look at transportation and warehouse jobs: Those sectors added 30,500 jobs in November, the Labor Department said. That’s 50 percent more than the November 2012 increase. These are FedEx and UPS gigs— the seasonal workers who ship you the deluxe limited DVD edition of "Downton Abbey."



Amazon alone planned to hire 20,000 additional holiday workers this year, according to the personnel firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Last month, the shipping sector added more jobs than brick-and-mortar retailers did. Stores added 24,800, only half as many as in the previous year.

Still, you might hold off on getting your commercial driver’s license. If Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos can deliver on his now-famous dream, many of those shipping jobs could eventually flow to Bezos’ armada of drones.

— DEATH OF FACTORIES GREATLY EXAGGERATED

There’s been a lot of handwringing about the plight of manufacturing. Factory orders have tumbled in recent months, government reports show. But industry surveys show that assembly lines are still cranking away.

Friday’s jobs report suggests that factories are booming. Manufacturers added 27,000 jobs. The result is that total factory employees cracked the 12 million mark for the first time since 2009. What’s more, factory workers are averaging 4.5 hours of overtime each week, an increase of nearly 10 percent over the year. We’re talking more cars, more steel, more machinery — and more spillover effects that boost other sectors, like transportation and technology.

— GRAYER WORKERS

The unemployment rate is just 4.9 percent for Americans older than 65, compared with 7 percent for adults as a whole. Dating to November 2012, the number of senior citizens who either have a job or are looking for one has grown by nearly half a million to 7 million.

In some cases, they kept working after they reached retirement age because their nest egg vanished during the financial crisis. There’s another factor, too: Social Security. To receive full Social Security benefits, Americans now have to wait until age 66, instead of 65.

— STAGNANT PAY AT THE BOTTOM

Restaurants and hotels created nearly 16 percent of the jobs added over the past 12 months. Those industries are known for paying low wages to their fry cooks and cleaning staff. Fast food chains like McDonald’s have been at the epicenter of a battle over low wages, with employees around the country last week staging walkouts.

Restaurants and hotels added 361,000 workers this year. And basic economic theory says greater demand for workers usually leads to higher pay.

 

 

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