Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

The March Review

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

The March Review

Article excerpt

After a number of years of relatively robust growth, the Nation's labor market showed signs of gradual weakening in 2007.

Following a long-standing tradition, economists from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) early each year prepare for the Monthly Labor Review trenchant analyses of employment and unemployment developments for the preceding calendar year. In the first of two such articles this month, James Marschall Borbely discusses changes in 2007 in some of our most fundamental labor market indicators. The unemployment rate for the United States edged up during the year to 4.8 percent in the fourth quarter, a mark still low by historical standards. Owing to slowing employment growth, the share of the population with jobs trended below 63 percent by the end of 2007, about half a percentage point less than a year earlier.

Slowing job growth also was evident based upon estimates derived from employer reports. Robyn J. Richards finds that industries related to the housing market suffered employment losses, and the longer-term contraction in manufacturing continued. Some reliable job-generating industries of recent years, including hospitals, education, and professional and technical services, continued to grow in 2007. Two measures relating to production workers--average weekly hours and average hourly earnings adjusted for inflation--declined. …

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