So much for those so-called green shoots of recovery. Yesterday's worse-than-expected unemployment report has far more red flags of warning on the jobs front, writes Moira Herbst in BusinessWeek. Among them: the average work week shrank to 33 hours, the lowest on record; hourly earnings remained flat; long-term unemployment rose to an all-time high; and temp workers, an important harbinger, took a big hit.
The shrinking pay packets are causing continued pessimism among consumers, leading many to expect a downturn that will last well into next year. The head of one employment firm believes the report shows the recession will be U-shaped rather than V-shaped. "We're bouncing along at the bottom of the U," he says. "The question is, when do we start making an upturn, and how much momentum does it have?"