The most interesting statistic — to me — from today’s news that Minnesota’s unemployment rate has held steady at 5.5 percent in February is this one: “The state is just 1,000 jobs short of its previous high point for jobs in February 2008.”
Here’s the bottom line from the Department of Employment and Economic Development news release:
Professional and business services led all sectors in February with 6,800 new jobs. Other sectors that added jobs were leisure and hospitality (up 3,200), education and health services (up 1,900), financial activities (up 1,700), construction (up 1,400), trade, transportation and utilities (up 1,300), and logging and mining (up 100). Other services held steady.
Job losses occurred in February in government (down 1,000), manufacturing (down 800) and information (down 100).
Over the past year, trade, transportation and utilities added the most jobs, growing by 15,200. The other sectors that added jobs were education and health services (up 13,100), professional and business services (up 12,300), government (up 5,300), financial activities (up 3,600), manufacturing (up 3,400), leisure and hospitality (up 3,300), information (up 2,200), other services (up 1,900), construction (up 1,900), and logging and mining (up 300).
Good times? Then why doesn’t it feel like it? It’s not a rhetorical question. It may well be that people have taken jobs paying less than what they made before the economy collapsed. But even talking with people who kept their jobs, didn’t lose pay or benefits, I sense a feeling that more people are still going to work each day wondering if this is the day it all ends.
The economy is different now, as economists have been telling us for years. Nobody — or at least not many — are going to retire with a gold watch anymore. Jobs will come and jobs will go and it’s the uncertainty of when that will be and who will be affected that takes some getting accustomed to.
Unemployment can leave a wicked wound of lower self esteem and confidence that going back to work doesn’t instantly build.
In the long run, I often wonder whether the relationship between employer and employee has changed forever and whether it’s for the better or for the worse. Perhaps a business relationship should just be a business relationship and nothing more. It wasn’t always thus.
So it’s a different world and while comparing numbers to the old one are interesting, I still long for a decent statistic that does a better job of factoring in the psychology of the working world today.
Discussion point: How’s it feel at your workplace compared to the good times?