In two weeks, the political and financial worlds will pause for the May Jobs Report from the Labor Department. While pundits will debate the change in payrolls and the unemployment rate, focusing on just the monthly numbers obscures more troubling underlying trends in the labor force. Since Obama took office, the number of temporary jobs has soared by 45%. Higher-paying manufacturing jobs have contracted 3.2%.
In January 2009, 1.96 million Americans held jobs in the temporary help sector. Last month, that number had swelled to 2.85 million, an increase of 45%. Twelve and half million Americans worked in manufacturing when Obama took office. Last month, the preliminary estimate from the Labor Department was that 12.1 million still worked in manufacturing.
When Obama took office, 142 million Americans were employed. Last month, 145 million were employed. While the 3 million increase is at least a positive number, it far lags the 13 million increase in the adult population.
The 3 million increase in employment looks a shade less positive when one considers that gains in temporary services (+1.3 million), leisure and hospitality (+894,000) and federal government employment (+60,000) account for more than 75% of the employment gains since Obama took office.