Oh, yea! proclaimed the headlines. The unemployment rate has dropped! For those who don’t read beyond the headlines, there’s more to the story.
Swing and a miss. A big miss. A really big miss. U.S. employers added just 120,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That’s the smallest increase since October. Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm employment to increase by 203,000. And as economist Robert Brusca points out, “The strong amazing run in household jobs came to a crashing halt as employment in that survey fell by 31,000 after rising by 42,000 last month and 847,000 the month before that.”
Then there’s the unemployment rate, which dipped to 8.2% from 8.3% the month before. That extends the longest streak of 8%-plus unemployment since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy hasn’t been below 8% unemployment since Obama took office in January 2009. And back in May 2007, unemployment was just 4.4%. (And keep in mind that average hourly wages are up just 2.1% over past year. But inflation up 2.9% (2.2% core). American workers are losing ground.) As Barclays Capital puts it: “Overall, the report had an undeniably weak tone and will raise doubts about the strength of the labor market. Given that the report reflects only one month of data and some of the underlying cyclical sectors registered payroll gains, we do not view it as conclusively signaling a shift to a lower trend rate of employment growth.”
Posted for all those besties who think our economy is just peachy keen. It’s… not.
Most striking: the unemployment rate if the size of the labor pool hadn’t shrunk so significantly. 10.9% Maybe Hope and Change was really Bait and Switch to get folks out of work and on the dole. It feels like it.