U.S. Job Woes Expected to Continue

October 28, 2008 Updated: October 29, 2008

WASHINGTON—Unemployment did not increase during September, after a half of a percentage rise to 592,000 people in August, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A total of 9.5 million American workers were out of a job by the end of September and predictions paint a gloomy picture in this election year.

Despite the economy, the U.S. mining and healthcare industries experienced an increase in hiring. Around 44,000 new jobs were created by the healthcare industry during August and September, with the majority from U.S. hospitals.

“Healthcare continues to create hundreds of thousands of job openings yearly. There is a critical shortage of nurses and other health care specialists. Biotechnology leaders will greatly expand their businesses,” said Plunkett Research, Ltd., an industry research firm in its “U.S. Job Market Overview.”

BLS data shows that the mining industry hired a total of 20,000 new employees during August and September.

A majority of industries saw declines. The worst results came from the U.S. manufacturing industry, which laid off 51,000 employees in September and 61,000 in August. More than 60 percent of the layoffs came from the auto industry.

On a positive note, Plunkett suggested that “companies that offer products or services that save time and/or money will prosper… and that help business operate more efficiently.”

All research firms predict further employment declines in the United States. The Conference Board Employment Trends Index believes the negative trends would continue for the rest of the year.

Predictions based on statistical information and samplings found that layoffs would continue until late 2009.

“The Employment Trends Index continues to rapidly deteriorate, suggesting there is little likelihood of a turnaround in the job market anytime soon,” says Grad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board, in a press release.

Before announcing the latest job market outlook, the Conference Board researched information from reliable sources such as the U.S. Department of Labor, National Federation of Independent Business, BLS, Federal Reserve Board and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

U.S. workers don’t believe in the recovery of the U.S. employment situation. The majority of 8,000 people being surveyed during a recent Gallup Poll reported actual and rumored layoffs at their companies.

Gallup Inc., a global research consultancy group based in Princeton, N.J., publishes the Gallup Poll and other research findings in its monthly Gallup Management Journal.

“These Gallup job findings, combined with declining oil and gas prices, suggest jobs and the need to address the lack of job creation in this country will become an increasingly important election issue of the coming weeks,” said Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at Gallup in a September press release.

Gallup suggests that housing woes, the financial turmoil, and escalating energy costs affected consumer confidence and consumer spending. In turn, the economic slowdown affects all industry sectors and Gallup predicts that “the U.S. economy could go into a more traditional jobs-related recession.”

Despite the fear of losing jobs, close to 50 percent of U.S. workers polled shared that they are quite satisfied with their jobs and another 42 percent had only few complaints. The surveyed employees generally gave positive feedback of their flex time, workload, and management and coworker relationships. A few gripes were voiced, as promotional opportunities, salaries, and benefits have taken a nosedive over the past year as employers cut costs.

Demand Over Supply

Corporations currently have leverage over employees. Due to the economic downturn, the number of people looking for jobs is much greater than the supply of available jobs. Companies have laid off veteran employees and replaced them with younger, cheaper labor.

This strategy also has its pitfalls, suggest professors from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in a September Knowledge @ Wharton (KW) article titled “Hiring from Outside the Company: How New People Can Bring Unexpected Problems.” KW is the publishing arm of the Wharton School of Business.

Companies will hire people that are experts in certain fields, but is this all that new hires bring to the new job? Nancy Rothbard, an UPenn professor, suggests that these new employees might bring along cultural problems that make them unfit to become a productive employee in a new environment.

In one example, an employee brought with him unwanted baggage from his prior firm’s culture to the new company that made the environment unsuitable, despite being an expert with years of experience.

The culture from the other firm “was so embedded in his ideas about how to do the job that even at this other firm, where management tried to instill the other set of values, it didn’t translate,” Rothbard said. “He had the skills to get up and running quickly in the [basics] of what an adjustor does, but he was ultimately not adaptable to the strategy and norm of the new firm.”

“His experience tended to trap him,” she added.