Well, the numbers are in, and there is credible evidence of a measurable improvement in the American economy. Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor released its September 2012 "Employment Situation Report." Statistics within the report indicated that employers added 114,000 jobs, resulting in a 0.3 percent drop in the overall unemployment rate. Now at 7.8 percent, the unemployment rate is lower than it has been since January 2009, which was about one year into the Great Recession.
There are other numbers noted within the report that are worth highlighting:
- The number of unemployed persons, at 12.1 million, decreased by 456,000 in September.
- Total employment rose by 873,000 in September—the most since June 1983.
- In 2012, employment growth has averaged 146,000 jobs per month.
- Employment statistics for July and August 2012 were revised indicating that 86,000 more jobs were actually created than previous reported.
Specific industries were key drivers of these positive economic trends. during the month of September. Over the past year, employment in health care has risen by 295,000. Last month, there were 17,000 more transportation and warehousing jobs. Within the industry, there were job gains in transit and ground passenger transportation (+9,000) and in warehousing and storage (+4,000). Employment related to financial activities also edged up in September, with the addition of over 13,000 positions.
We can see tangible examples of new jobs right in and around our homes here in Perry Hall. This past Friday, Boscov's Department Store reopened its White Marsh Mall location, after an absence of four years. This one store opening alone added 300 retail positions, which Boscov's started filling back in May 2012. Also last week, a new Salvo Auto Parts store opened in the Perry Hall Square Shopping Center. In addition, the new Giant in Perry Hall now employs a combination of over 200 full- and part-time employees.
To be sure, we still have to make continued progress like this in order to get the nation's unemployment rate down to the 4.7 percent rate recorded in November 2007, immediately prior to the recession. While everyone would have liked to see the economy in a more robust state some five years later, it is important to maintain realistic expectations.
The American economy—and its ability to change over time—is much more like a supertanker than a speedboat. In others words, systemic changes do take time to unfold. The variety of initiatives that have been undertaken over the past four years (economic stimulus, investments in infrastructure, monetary policies meant to encourage business growth, etc.) appear to be giving corporations and small business owners the confidence to reinvest in themselves and hire new staff.
Retailers like Macy's and others are counting on this, as they are beefing up their staffs to support an expected brisk Christmas shopping season. Let's all hope that these positive trends continue, and that American business keeps getting stronger.