The Labor Department released a September jobs report today that painted a slightly less pessimistic picture for African-Americans. The unemployment rate for Blacks was at 16.0 percent, down from 16.7 percent in August. As economists predicted, the national unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.1 percent.
The economy added 130,000 jobs, which was more than economists had hoped for. But, as the Associated Press reports, service industry firms, such as retailers, restaurants and health care providers, reduced their workforces in September for the first time in 13 months. In addition, the number of applications for unemployment benefits increased by 6,000 last week, a sure sign of a weak job market and economic recovery.
Jill Brown, an economist at Credit Suisse Securities, told the Associated Press that the increase in unemployment insurance applications suggests that employers are in “hiring-freeze mode rather than full-blown cost cutting mode.”
“The economy has just hit a brick wall and is slowing down very significantly. What’s driving the economy at this point is the fear of the unknown. Corporations have cut back spending in a big way and that [trickles down] to small businesses, who do most of the hiring, because they are tied to corporate supply chains and they’re getting squeezed,” said Georgia Tech economist Thomas Boston.
He said that consumers also are tightening their purse strings in terms of spending and savings because they simply don’t have as much income as before.
Boston added that the unemployment report may boost President Obama’s quest to get a jobs bill through Congress, although he cautions that the package is not a panacea and that there’s not enough in it to really jumpstart the economy, but it could prevent the situation from growing worse.
(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)