Crossed Signals

By Isaac Cohen*

The positive figures on employment in the United States, released by the Labor Department last Friday, support an optimistic view of a decade old economic expansion, if these were the only figures. Job creation in September was 136,000 new, non agricultural jobs, less than the monthly average of 161,000 created thus far this year and also under the monthly average of 223,000 created last year.

This is evidence of a slowdown, because there were sectors which registered job losses, such as manufacturing, less than 2,000, or durable goods, less than 4,000. Also, it confirms the drop to 47.8 registered in the Institute of Supply Management index of manufacturing production, which under 50 indicates contraction. Even so, unemployment decreased to 4.8 percent among those who do not have a high school degree, while among Hispanic workers unemployment also decreased by 0.3 percent to 3.9 percent and to 3.0 percent among Hispanic men.

The job losses in manufacturing and durable goods can be attributed to the protectionist policies practiced by the White House. Also, workers still have to see the benefits from the expansion, because salary increases fell to 2.9 percent in September, from 3.2 percent in August. Additionally, the enigma remains of why salaries have not increased, despite the complaints from employers that hiring new workers is becoming more difficult, while inflation remains obstinate below the 2 percent objective of the central bank.

*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.

About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA.Com (MLN). Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia (UDC). Email: [email protected]

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