Monday, July 12, 2010

Census Jobs Ending

The temporary census jobs are wrapping up, and hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed workers will be pouring in to the already flooded job market:

Now, its decennial work largely done, the Census Bureau is shedding hundreds of thousands of workers — about 225,000 in just the last few weeks, enough to account for a jot or two in the unemployment rate, say federal economists. Most of those remaining will be gone by August; a few will last into September.

Usually the census has trouble getting enough people to stay on to finish the job. Not this year:

“Typically, at this point in the process, we’re losing a lot of people because they’re taking jobs,” said Kathleen Ludgate, the regional director in Boston. “I wish we had that problem now.”

Ms. Ludgate receives notes from departing workers, some by e-mail, others in ink. They thank her for the chance to learn something about themselves and their country. They write to say their confidence had picked up, that they can again meet the gaze of friends and neighbors.

These are the missives of hard-working people who found themselves in a tighter spot than they ever expected, and who came to view census work as a lifeline.

Many are middle-aged. The census offices in Providence and Bridgeport, Conn., offer a sea of gray-haired men and women in neat office garb. They work with an intensity that suggests they would rather concentrate on the task at hand than the fast-approaching end.

How will this affect the unemployment numbers? From The Atlantic:

According to these projections and the actual results in June, it would mean a summer of 329,000 net job losses. It could take until winter before the labor market gets those back through three months of net positive gains, unless jobs grow at a rate of more than 110,000 per month starting in September. That might not sound like much, but so far this year, only two months -- March and April -- have seen non-Census job growth exceed 100,000.

At this rate, millions of unemployed people are likely to be unemployed for years to come.

cross-posted at Main St/

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