Labor commissioner talks about jobs forecast in SF


There is reason for optimism and reason for concern in the recent numbers out. More people working is great for the economy, but the number of long-term unemployed, that is job seekers that can't find work for more than six months is at 6.5 million people -- an all -time record.

"I will have to say that on the whole, this is a positive report. This is the first significant job gains, the first since the recession," Commissioner Keith Hall from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an independent agency which watches jobs come and go.

Last month, not only did employment rise by 162,000, but temporary help services, often a precursor of full-time hiring, also increased by 40,000.

Since September, this industry has grown by 313,000 jobs and the revised numbers for February show a gain of 14,000 jobs, not the26,000 jobs lost as reported from initial data.

But Commissioner Hall is concerned about what his group calls 'the USix number.'

"The USix includes people that are unemployed, includes people that are marginally attached to the labor force, which is primarily discouraging for workers and it includes part-time. And that number this month [March] is 16.9 percent," he said.

Net jobs lost since the beginning of the recession now stands at 8.2 million. But Commissioner Hall sees much good news in this report, and believes it will show up in the Bay Area.

"Large areas like this that have very diverse economies, they can vary somewhat from the national numbers, but they are well-connected with the national numbers so if those numbers improve, numbers like the Bay Area often will improve," he said.

There are some areas that are already showing improvement. Health care just added 27,000 jobs, manufacturing is up for the third straight month and construction held steady in March. That's good for an industry that lost an average of 72,000 thousand jobs per month over the past year.

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