“Frictional unemployment” doesn’t pay the bills

Good news on the nation’s job front as we head into the holiday weekend.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported today that 288,000 jobs were added to the national economy in June and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent.  This is the fifth month in a row of 200,000+ job growth.  On this news the Dow Jones average surpassed the 1700 mark this morning for the first time.

The economy is heading steadily in the right direction and might be what some economists consider “full employment” defined by Investopedia in this way:

“A situation in which all available labor resources are being used in the most economically efficient way. Full employment embodies the highest amount of skilled and unskilled labor that could be employed within an economy at any given time. The remaining unemployment is frictional.”

Need more clarity? Investopedia says that “Frictional unemployment is the amount of unemployment that results from workers who are in between jobs, but are still in the labor force.”

According to economists this “frictional unemployment” is between 2 and 7 percent.

So with these definitions of “full employment” and “frictional unemployment” and a national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, are we at “full employment”?

I’ll let the economists figure that out. But what I do know is that the Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine Data Series tells us that on average in South Carolina there was 1.92 unemployed for every job opening advertised during the month of June.  Nationally it was 2 unemployed for every job advertised.

Any way you slice it, there are still a lot of unemployed people looking for jobs that are not there when and where they need them.  Many of these unemployed are not “frictional unemployed”.   They are chronically unemployed and just telling them, as some want to do, to go out and get a job doesn’t cut it regardless if we are at a statistical point of “full employment”.

Have a happy and safe 4th.

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