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February 1993, Vol. 116, No. 2
Thomas Nardone, Diane Herz, Earl Mellor, and Steven Hipple
T he labor market was sluggish in 1992, as the economy struggled to regain ground lost during the 1990-91 recession. Employment grew little over the year, while unemployment rose in the first half, but edged down in the second.
Nonfarm payroll employment-as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly survey of employer payrolls-increased by only about 450,000 between the fourth quarters of 1991 and 1992; this modest gain left employment about 1.5 million below its prerecession peak. Only the services industry and government had substantial employment gains over the year, and, even in these areas, job growth was much slower than during most of the 1980's. In other industries, employment fell or was little changed during 1992. Manufacturing, in which employment has been on a downward trend since the beginning of 1989, posted the largest job losses.
The proportion of the population with jobs-as measured by the BLS survey of households-was 61.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 1992. That figure was unchanged from a year earlier and well below the peak rate of 63.0 percent reached in 1989 and the first half of 1990.1
The fourth-quarter 1992 unemployment level, 9.3 million, and the unemployment rate, 7.3 percent, were both slightly higher than they were a year earlier. This rise in joblessness resulted from a burst of labor force growth in late 1991 and the first half of 1992, combined with further job losses and very slow employment growth throughout the year. As labor force growth slowed the second half, the unemployment rate edged down. The fourth-quarter rate, 7.3 percent, was still some 2 percentage points above its prerecession level.
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1 This report summarizes developments in the U.S. Labor market in 1992, using data from the Bureau's Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey of 370,000 nonfarm business establishments and from the Current Population Survey (the CPS, collected for BLS by the Bureau of the Census) of 60,000 households. Employment and unemployment data used in this article are quarterly averages. Estimates of over-the-year change are based on a comparison of fourth-quarter averages.
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