Winter Storms Affect Unemployment Rates

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged in February, although 36,000 jobs were lost, according to a recent Labor Department report. CNNMoney.com reports that job economists had predicted job losses of 68,000. Still, February losses were worse than those a month earlier, when 26,000 jobs were lost.

February job losses did not result in any significant change in the number of unemployed persons, and the official government unemployment rate remains at 9.7%. Had the job economists been right, the unemployment rate for February would have increased to 9.8%.

The revolving door of unemployment

Taking the February unemployment report to a level that matters, 36,000 people lost jobs in February and about that many found jobs. Many thousands of previously unemployed workers will at last start bringing home paychecks and in just a short time, they’ll also be able to obtain short term personal loans and emergency money when needed. Just as many recently employed workers will be out of luck, however, and may eventually find themselves in serious need of credit repair.

Unemployment rates can depend on the weather

This may be of no consolation whatsoever to those 36,000 newly unemployed workers, but unemployment rates are fickle things: They can depend on the weather. Severe winter storms on the east coast last month may have affected the government’s unemployment report.

According to the CNNMoney article, the Labor Department conducted its job survey in the middle of February when blizzards were blanketing the area with several feet of snow. Businesses were temporarily closed because of the storms and snowed-in workers, especially retail, manufacturing, and construction employees, who did not work and went without pay were not included in the government’s payroll survey.

Underemployment rates can depend on the weather, too

Underemployment, apparently, can also depend on the weather. Snows in the east may have skewed the number of people working only part-time hours while seeking full-time employment. The underemployment figure for February rose by nearly 400,000, resulting in an underemployment rate increase from 16.5% in January to 16.8% in February.

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