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Science Careers Blog

August 6, 2010

Another mixed month in employment in the United States

On the surface, the employment report released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looks bad: 131,000 jobs lost in the midst of what many hoped was a recovery. Dig just a little deeper and it looks a little better -- maybe -- but still not very good.

Last month's job losses resulted from an anticipated event: more temporary census workers -- 143,000 of them -- reaching the end of their assignments. In the private sector, real jobs were created: 71,000 of them. That's good. But beyond the 143,000 census jobs, governments shed an additional 58,000 jobs -- 10,000 from state payrolls and 38,000 from local -- as those governments struggled to deal with budget deficits. 196,000 census workers are still temporarily employed. In July the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.5%.

In addition to the new July numbers, the new BLS report revised downward June's numbers. Last month, the bureau said, the economy shed 221,000 jobs, nearly 100,000 more than the  125,000 reported in early July.

Lately, reported corporate profits have been strong, but economists say this is largely due to cost-cutting, a strategy these companies seem to be continuing. There doesn't seem to be much interest in adding jobs.

If there's reason for hope, perhaps it's in the Conference Board's survey of online job ads, which showed that in July the number of online ads increased by a healthy (but unspectacular) 139,200 -- a much better number than a month before. And taking the longer view, the number of science-related online job ads has increased by 28% over the last 12 months.

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