The good Labor Department jobs news, which it turns out is really, really good:
The economy accelerated in June, with employers adding 288,000 jobs, well above the rate of hiring recorded in the first five months of 2014 and another sign that growth is finally rebounding.
The Labor Department also said on Thursday that the unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point, to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008, when the economy’s fortunes turned sharply lower as Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial crisis ensued.
Nearly six years later, some of the scars remain — like a historically low rate of Americans in the work force. But the job market has been showing signs of health, even as the overall economic growth rate has been anemic.
Unemployment has come down from 7.9 percent at the start of 2013, and the average monthly gain in payrolls has been above 200,000 for the last five months.
2.5 million new jobs in he last 12 months, 9.7 million in the last 54 months of private sector growth, a new record for consecutive months of private sector job growth. This is the good news.
And this bad, long-term labor picture news, which is pretty awful:
But there’s a gnawing fear among economists that the improving data provides false comfort. More than 26 million people are in part-time jobs, significantly more than before the recession, making it one of the corners of the labor market that has been slowest to heal. That has led to worries that the workforce may be becoming permanently polarized, with part-timers stuck on one side and full-time workers on the other.
“What we’re seeing is a growing trend of low-quality part-time jobs,” said Carrie Gleason, director of the Fair Work Week Initiative, which is pushing for labor reforms. “It’s creating this massive unproductive workforce that is unable to productively engage in their lives or in the economy.”
Washington has begun to take notice. As the unemployment rate has dropped, the debate among policymakers has expanded from providing aid to those without a job to include improving conditions for those who do. President Obama has raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers, many of whom are part-time. The White House is also building support for a measure that would require companies to provide paid sick leave. Nationwide protests at retailers and fast-food chains that heavily rely on part-time labor have called for more reliable schedules.
The government defines part-time workers as those whose jobs average less than 35 hours a week. Historically, they made up about 17 percent of the workforce — and, in most cases, they were part-time by choice. They may be caring for family members, enrolled in school or simply uninterested or unable to work more hours. Technically, they are not counted among the unemployed.
But the spike in part-time work since the recession has been largely involuntary. They may have had their hours cut or are unable to find full-time jobs, earning them the official designation of “part-time for economic reasons.” Last year, nearly 8 million people fell into this category, compared to just 4.4 million in 2007.
We're getting jobs back. We're not replacing them with good jobs. Corporations are still raking in record profits at the expense of their employees, and wages are still stagnant. We need to get that fixed, and for that, we need to get the House back from the Republicans in November.