You may have seen this already in the mainstream media, but this morning’s announcement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the economy lost 80,000 non-farm jobs in March isn’t good news for folks seeking scientific or any other type of employment. The jobs report continues trends seen throughout the first quarter of 2008, during which average monthly job losses were 77,000. The unemployment rate was up almost half a percent compared to the average rate during the first half of 2007.
The broad category most directly linked to science–professional and technical services–was flat for March, as it has been since the beginning of the year.
Of some interest to scientists is the "employment services" category, which includes temporary workers. (For more information on working as a scientific "temp", see Cliff Mintz’s article "Short-Term Science".) Though it’s often said that temps do well when the economy is poor, "employment services" was among the worst-performing categories in March, shedding 42,000 jobs. That’s nearly as bad as the construction industry, which, under the influence of the current mortgage crisis, shed 51,000 jobs in March.
There’s always McDonald’s. The food-service industry added 23,000 jobs in March, as did health care.