Chart of the day: US unemployment down, UK not so hot

Although the employment data for the US was weaker than hoped, it was still better than the UK.

The lastest US employment figures were released on Good Friday. They showed that there were 12.67 million unemployed people in March 2012 making the unemployment rate 8.2 per cent.

In March, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in the country for adult men was 7.6 per cent, adult women 7.4 per cent, teenagers 25 per cent, whites 7.3 per cent, blacks 14 per cent, and Hispanics 10.3 per cent. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.2 per cent.

The number of long-term unemployed – those jobless for 27 weeks and over, who account for 42.5 per cent of the unemployed – was 5.3 million in March, compared to 5.42 million previous month.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons fell from 8.1 to 7.7 million over the month, contrasting with the UK where underemployment is rising.

The US employment figures are put together by a survey of about 60,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This survey thus includes agricultural workers, the self-employed, unpaid family workers, and private household workers among the employed.

A second survey asks employers what their actions have been. Although it misses many of these groups, the sample size is much larger. This establishment survey data enables us to break down much more information by sector.

Private-sector employment grew by 121,000 in March, while government employment was essentially unchanged. Employment in manufacturing, food services and drinking places, and health care sectors increased. Retail trade lost jobs over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours in March. The manufacturing workweek fell by 0.3 hour to 40.7 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.4 hours.

The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.8 hours.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $23.39.

Although the US figures were weaker than hoped, they were still stronger than the UK, where we may be settling in to a long, hard slog.