The Unemployment Rate and What Job Seekers Can Do!
The latest unemployment rate was announced today and while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states the number has not changed much, it actually ticked up slightly to 8.3 % in July vs. June’s rate of 8.2%. So much is based on this number – stock prices change, presidential candidates use this number to further their candidacy, etc. Lots of ‘he said/she said’ on why these numbers are the way they are. But as a job seeker, how can you affect this number, what do these numbers even mean for you, and what can you do about it?
The numbers are a simple calculation:
Here is a quick overview of just how these numbers are calculated:
It’s a fairly simple formula. We will not go into detail on exactly how the numbers used to calculate the rate are determined, since that is a little more of a complicated process.
When reviewing the numbers in detail and adding them in the formula, the rate in June was 8.217% and the rate the July was 8.254%, so the general comments of 8.2% (June) to 8.3% (July) are a little harsher than they need to be due to rounding; the number did not change by .1%, the number changed by 0.03698%. It is a little nit-picky, but when looking at large population numbers, this means thousands of people.
Your Effect on the Unemployment Number
Now, lets plug in a number you can affect (and should really focus on if you are a job seeker) – your impact. When you succeed in your job search and nail that job, your contribution to improve the unemployment number is roughly 6 ten-millionths of a percent (0.0000006%) or if you used a calculator, it would read: 6E-09. Realistically you may not move the needle, so, why focus too much on the number during your search. Frankly, my advice is not to focus too much on the actual number, but focus on the actions you can take to get you employed.
The Numbers Behind the Numbers
You can actually review the press release about these numbers and recognize that there is a little more data that can help guide you. Specifically, which sectors are hiring. In July, these sectors added jobs:
- Professional and business services
- Computer Systems Design
- Temporary Help Services
- Leisure and Hospitality – food servies/drinking places
- Manufacturing (mostly durable goods)
- Motor Vehicles and Parts
- Fabricated Metal Products
- Health Care
- Wholesale trade
While a one month snapshot does not indicate a trend, a job seeker needs to really understand if hiring is up or will stay up in a specific industry. The same website where this press release is located also provides earlier press releases. If that research doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, a website called Wanted Analytics sends out a daily newsletter on hiring trends – you can sign up for their newsletter and you will see some good trends.
In summary, I see too many job seekers watch the unemployment number with great anticipation and then get angry or depressed. In general, venting may make you feel better, but if you look into the numbers in more details, you can actually take true actions which can have a greater impact on your job search.