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US employers cut 467,000 jobs in June

Back into the woods, not seeing it for trees

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The US Department of Labor wanted to give out a little good news about the economy ahead of the July 4th holiday weekend in the States, but unfortunately that was not possible. The rate of job losses accelerated in the US in June, with 467,000 employees let go across all companies and industries excepting farming.

As El Reg reported a month ago when the May jobs report came out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies in the States slashed 345,000 jobs in May, boosting the unemployment rate to 9.4 per cent. Through the magic of seasonally adjusting the numbers, slicing another 467,000 jobs in June only pushed the unemployment rate to 9.5 per cent, according to the BLS.

This strikes me as BS, and it is a pity that it is not just called the Bureau of Statistics. It is also a pity that Uncle Sam doesn't do the smart thing and count jobs and job cuts by job type and title, not by industry. You need both sets of data if you want to understand an economy.

Anyway, according to the June jobs report, which you can see here (pdf), the job losses were in just about every sector of the economy, but hit the manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services sector particularly hard. Manufacturers shed another 136,000 jobs in June, according to the BLS, and since the recession began in December 2007, over 1.9 million manufacturing jobs have been removed from the economy.

Among manufacturers, those making computer and electronic products shed 16,000 jobs (these are seasonally adjusted figures: Construction companies shed 79,000 jobs in June, and have cut 1.3 million employees since the recession began; those engaged in professional and business services (including those engaged in software development and IT consulting) cut 118,000 jobs last month in the States, and have cut 848,000 jobs since December 2007.

Taking a deeper look at the unfudged BLS data to get a sense of how IT-related sub-sectors of the US economy fared in terms of job cuts, computer and peripheral equipment makers cut 2,400 jobs in June, those making communications equipment cut 1,900 jobs, and those making semiconductors and electronic components removed 5,200 workers. Telecommunications companies cut 5,700 employees last month, but data processing, hosting, and related services firms held steady at 256,300 employees.

Companies engaged in computer systems design and related services actually saw employment rise by 1,600 people to just over 1.45 million employees in the raw data, but in the seasonally adjusted data the BLS reckons that 2,700 jobs were cut. This is why you always look at the raw data.

While it makes sense to not over-emphasize job cuts that are due to seasonal cycles and to do some fudging, I have a hard time believing that there is a seasonal uptick in the late spring and early summer for IT pros that you need to knock off the numbers. The elimination of 4,300 jobs in the seasonally adjusted figures put out by the BLS for computer nerds is perplexing. ®

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