Workers face 5.7 percent unemployment

August 4, 2008 12:14:57 PM PDT
Unemployment is now at 5.7% which is the highest level in four years, but the losses were not as great as expected.

"We continue to see a trend in job losses in construction and manufacturing. We also saw some retail job losses in the most recent report but there's some areas of strength in the jobs market for professional skills despite today's numbers," said Tig Gilliam of Adecco USA.

The report also shows an increase in the under-employed. The number of Americans working part-time jobs has hit an all-time high- 3.7 million, up 3% from a year ago. Many of them were full-time workers who had their hours scaled back or lost their job completely.

Shawn McCulloch had his own property management firm until it went under last year. He's been unable to get a full-time job since.

"It's really tough out there. It's really going to take a lot, economically, to turn the tables. It's going to take a lot economically, because if me, if someone with the experience I have, with the education I have, is having a hard time just getting something minimal then we're heading for a bit of a crisis as a whole. People are having difficulty just surviving, just making it from today to tomorrow," said McCulloch who is hoping to settle on a part-time job as a personal trainer to help pay the bills.

"I had to swallow my pride and take this job. I'd love to have a full-time job but need to work where I can. The low-end employment opportunities are pretty much all filled. I think everyone is taking second opportunities, second jobs. It's the summer now, so it's challenging. You have a lot of college students out looking for work, summer employment for high school students. The lower end, lower minimum wage employment opportunities are difficult, so I pretty much have to, you know, not really count on that," said McCulloch.

McCulloch is not alone. As companies and governments seek to slash costs, part-time employees are an attractive option.

"An employer would prefer to keep the talent they have and so, if they have to reduce cost on the employee side, a move to make people part-time is better than letting them go," said Gilliam.

For those out of work, a part-time job can be necessary, if imperfect, step on the road to full employment.

"I just want a job. I'm looking for a little part-time job just to keep the utilities going," said Shawn McCulloch.


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