Commentary Magazine


Topic: unemployment

The Jobs Report

The American economy showed definite signs of life last month. While the unemployment rate stayed steady at 5.8 percent, the country added 320,000 jobs in November, well above the consensus estimate of 230,000 jobs. That’s the most jobs added in a month since January 2012. Both September and October had their jobs numbers revised upwards as well.

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The American economy showed definite signs of life last month. While the unemployment rate stayed steady at 5.8 percent, the country added 320,000 jobs in November, well above the consensus estimate of 230,000 jobs. That’s the most jobs added in a month since January 2012. Both September and October had their jobs numbers revised upwards as well.

Looking at year-over-year figures, the unemployment rate has dropped from 7 percent in November 2013 to 5.8 percent last month. The number of unemployed has dropped from 10.8 million to 9.1 million. The participation rate, however, was 63 percent a year ago and is 62.8 now, well below the prerecession level.

What has not improved is wages, which are barely keeping pace with inflation. But if the pool of unemployed and underemployed continues to shrink, that will put upward pressure on wages. That, of course, could be negated if the participation rate begins to move back up to prerecession levels.

Having contracted in the first quarter, during a terrible winter, the economy rebounded sharply in the second quarter, growing at a 4.6 percent annual rate. It grew at 3.9 percent in the third quarter. Economists expect growth in the fourth quarter in the 2-2.5 percent range.

So while the American economy is nowhere near showing signs of irrational exuberance, it is doing better than the economies of Japan and most of the eurozone economies. And the fall in oil prices, from about $100 a barrel in January to $66 yesterday, has substantially increased the average American family’s purchasing power.

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The Jobs Report

The economy added 214,000 jobs last months, slightly below expectations, but August and September were revised upwards by a total of 31,000. Over the last six months new jobs have averaged 235,000 a month, which is better than it’s been in some time.

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The economy added 214,000 jobs last months, slightly below expectations, but August and September were revised upwards by a total of 31,000. Over the last six months new jobs have averaged 235,000 a month, which is better than it’s been in some time.

The unemployment rate dropped a notch, to 5.8 percent, the best since 2008, and, for once, the participation rate went up a notch as well, to 62.8 percent. In other words, more people joined the labor force last month than left it. But we have a long way to go to get back to normal. The rate was 66 percent before the financial crisis of 2008.

Wages remain sticky. The average private-sector wage in October was up three cents to $24.57. That’s 2 percent higher than the average wage a year ago. But inflation was 1.7 percent in that time.

So the economy continues it slow recovery. There is not the slightest hint of “irrational exuberance,” except, perhaps, in the stock market, whose rise has been driven not by a good economy, but by recovering profits and very low interest rates. The latter makes bonds and CD’s unattractive alternatives to equities.

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The Jobs Report

This month’s jobs report is a distinct improvement over last month’s mediocre results. The economy created 248,000 jobs, somewhat above the recent average of about 228,000. Unemployment fell two-tenths of a percent to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008, as the financial crisis was rapidly building. Previous months’ estimates were raised as well. The August estimate had originally been 148,000 jobs. That was raised to 180,000.

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This month’s jobs report is a distinct improvement over last month’s mediocre results. The economy created 248,000 jobs, somewhat above the recent average of about 228,000. Unemployment fell two-tenths of a percent to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008, as the financial crisis was rapidly building. Previous months’ estimates were raised as well. The August estimate had originally been 148,000 jobs. That was raised to 180,000.

There are still 9.3 million unemployed. That is down 329,000 from the previous month. But notice that that number is well above the 248,000 new jobs created. So the unemployment rate is going down, at least in part, because of people dropping out of the work force, not because they found work. The labor force participation rate fell .1 percent to 62.7 percent. Before the recession, it was at about 66 percent. There are 7.1 million working part-time when they would prefer to be in full-time jobs.

Yesterday President Obama was at Northwestern University touting his administration’s economic performance. George Will, on last night’s Special Report with Bret Baier, was less than impressed:

The president went to the state of Illinois to brag about the economy. Illinois has 300,000 fewer jobs than it had in 2008. For the last four years in the state of Illinois, the number of new food stamp recipients has increased twice as fast as the number of new job recipients. He was speaking in Illinois on a college campus. He did not mention that 40 percent of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed — that is, in jobs that don’t require college degrees — and one in three recent college graduates is living at home with their parents.

No wonder that 58 percent of the country thinks that we’re still in recession when the recession, technically, ended over five years ago, in June 2009.

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The Jobs Report

Job growth stumbled in August. While economists had been expecting 225,000 new jobs, there were only 142,000, the first time the jobs number was below 200,000 since January, in the middle of a terrible winter. The unemployment rate dropped a notch to 6.1 percent, but so did the participation rate, to 62.8 percent, tying its lowest rate since the 1970s. In August 2013, the unemployment rate was 7.2 percent and the participation rate was 63.2 percent. In other words, much of the improvement in the unemployment rate comes not from more jobs but from fewer workers.

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Job growth stumbled in August. While economists had been expecting 225,000 new jobs, there were only 142,000, the first time the jobs number was below 200,000 since January, in the middle of a terrible winter. The unemployment rate dropped a notch to 6.1 percent, but so did the participation rate, to 62.8 percent, tying its lowest rate since the 1970s. In August 2013, the unemployment rate was 7.2 percent and the participation rate was 63.2 percent. In other words, much of the improvement in the unemployment rate comes not from more jobs but from fewer workers.

Those unemployed for more than 27 weeks dipped by 192,000, but is still very high at 2,963,000, 31.2 percent of all unemployed. Those working part time when they would prefer full time dropped by 234,000 to 7,277,000. If the under-employed are added to the unemployed, the broader unemployment rate is 12 percent, down from 12.2 percent last month.

So the Obama recovery continues at its dawdling pace, like a reluctant child on his way to school, still showing no signs whatsoever of Alan Greenspan’s dreaded “irrational exuberance.”

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The Jobs Report

The July jobs report came in this morning a little below expectations. That’s a good thing for Wall Street. It tumbled 318 points yesterday because of the rebound in GDP to 4 percent for the second quarter reported on Wednesday. The stock market has been doing so well lately (it has more than doubled since its recession low in March 2009) because the Federal Reserve has been keeping interest rates near zero to bolster the economy. With bonds paying so little, equities have been the only game in town. But with a stronger economy, the Fed will begin to raise rates and money would begin shifting out of stocks and into other investments. So right now, good news is bad news on Wall Street.

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The July jobs report came in this morning a little below expectations. That’s a good thing for Wall Street. It tumbled 318 points yesterday because of the rebound in GDP to 4 percent for the second quarter reported on Wednesday. The stock market has been doing so well lately (it has more than doubled since its recession low in March 2009) because the Federal Reserve has been keeping interest rates near zero to bolster the economy. With bonds paying so little, equities have been the only game in town. But with a stronger economy, the Fed will begin to raise rates and money would begin shifting out of stocks and into other investments. So right now, good news is bad news on Wall Street.

The economy added 209,000 jobs last month, down from June’s 298,000 (revised upwards in the latest report). Unemployment ticked up to 6.2 percent from 6.1 last month. Job growth has been above 200,000 a month for the last six months, the first time that has happened since 1997. The participation rate went up, but only a single notch, from 62.8 percent to 62.9.

But black unemployment rose from 10.7 percent to 11.4, while black youth unemployment went from 33.4 percent to 34.9. Both these numbers tend to be volatile, but they are still dismal. The number of people working part time for lack of full-time jobs was unchanged at 7.5 million; 3.2 million people have been unemployed for six months or longer, almost one-third of all unemployed.

In all, another so-so jobs report, typical of the Obama recovery.

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The Jobs Report

The employment picture brightened somewhat in June, with 288,000 new jobs (up from a revised 224,000 in May) and a decline in the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent from 6.3. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since August 2008, on the eve of the financial crisis. We have now had job growth above 200,000 for the last five months, the first time that has happened since the very prosperous years of the late 1990s. The number of long-term unemployed (over 27 weeks) declined by 293,000. Unemployment among African-Americans fell from 11.5 percent to 10.7.

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The employment picture brightened somewhat in June, with 288,000 new jobs (up from a revised 224,000 in May) and a decline in the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent from 6.3. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since August 2008, on the eve of the financial crisis. We have now had job growth above 200,000 for the last five months, the first time that has happened since the very prosperous years of the late 1990s. The number of long-term unemployed (over 27 weeks) declined by 293,000. Unemployment among African-Americans fell from 11.5 percent to 10.7.

But the picture was not all bright. The number of involuntary part-time workers increased by 275,000. Teenage unemployment increased to 21 percent. Among black teenagers it was a horrendous 33.4 percent, up from 31.1 percent in May. One in three black teenagers in the labor force are unemployed. The participation rate stayed steady at 62.8 percent for the third month in a row. But that is down from a year ago, when it was 64 percent and way down from before the recession. So much of the drop in unemployment came from people dropping out of the labor force, not finding jobs.

And many of the new jobs were at the low end of the pay scale. While retail jobs increased by 40,000 and leisure and hospitality 39,000, higher-paying jobs in manufacturing (16,000) and construction (6,000) were far fewer.

So while the news is good, it is not unalloyed good. We’ll know we are finally in a full-fledged recovery when the participation rate begins to climb steadily as discouraged workers see more opportunity and begin looking for jobs. That might send the unemployment rate up at first, but that, paradoxically, would actually be good news.

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The Jobs Report

The economy added 217,000 jobs in May while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3 percent. The jobs number is a bit above the monthly average over the last six months, enough growth to keep the economic situation from getting worse but not enough to produce what anyone would call boom times.

The number of people employed in the United States reached 138.5 million, a new record, finally surpassing the previous record set in January 2008 before the financial crisis. But the population since then has increased by five percent. So the labor participation rate, at 62.8 percent (unchanged from last month) is well below the rate in January 2008, when it was 66.2 percent.

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The economy added 217,000 jobs in May while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3 percent. The jobs number is a bit above the monthly average over the last six months, enough growth to keep the economic situation from getting worse but not enough to produce what anyone would call boom times.

The number of people employed in the United States reached 138.5 million, a new record, finally surpassing the previous record set in January 2008 before the financial crisis. But the population since then has increased by five percent. So the labor participation rate, at 62.8 percent (unchanged from last month) is well below the rate in January 2008, when it was 66.2 percent.

There are still 7.3 million workers working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment or have had their hours cut back. There are 697,000 “discouraged” workers, little changed from a year ago. Overall teenage unemployment remains a dismal 19.2 percent while for black teenagers it’s an appalling 31.1 percent. That’s down from 36.8 percent last month, but this number tends to be volatile.

All in all this is about an average jobs report for the Obama era. Nothing to write home about but not calamitous either.

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The Jobs Report

If the Commerce Department’s first-quarter GDP report that came out on Wednesday was bad news for the administration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report this morning is good news.

The economy added 288,000 new jobs last month and the February and March figures were upped from previous estimates to 222,000 and 203,000 respectively. The 288,000 figure represents the largest number of jobs added in a month since January 2012, and the second biggest since recovery began in June 2009. The statistics for most subgroups moved in the right direction as well. Black unemployment, for instance, fell from 12.4 percent to 11.6 percent.

But the big news is that the unemployment rate fell a whopping four-tenths of a percent to 6.3 percent, the lowest since September 2008, just before the financial crisis struck with full force. Economists had been expecting a drop to 6.6 percent. However, part of that drop can be attributed to a sharp drop in the total labor force, which shrank by 806,000. The labor force participation rate also fell by 0.4 percent to a dismal 62.8 percent. It was 66 percent in September 2008. If it were still at 66 percent the unemployment rate would be far higher than it is.

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If the Commerce Department’s first-quarter GDP report that came out on Wednesday was bad news for the administration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report this morning is good news.

The economy added 288,000 new jobs last month and the February and March figures were upped from previous estimates to 222,000 and 203,000 respectively. The 288,000 figure represents the largest number of jobs added in a month since January 2012, and the second biggest since recovery began in June 2009. The statistics for most subgroups moved in the right direction as well. Black unemployment, for instance, fell from 12.4 percent to 11.6 percent.

But the big news is that the unemployment rate fell a whopping four-tenths of a percent to 6.3 percent, the lowest since September 2008, just before the financial crisis struck with full force. Economists had been expecting a drop to 6.6 percent. However, part of that drop can be attributed to a sharp drop in the total labor force, which shrank by 806,000. The labor force participation rate also fell by 0.4 percent to a dismal 62.8 percent. It was 66 percent in September 2008. If it were still at 66 percent the unemployment rate would be far higher than it is.

If the trend of the last three months continues, one would expect more people to enter the labor force and that could push the unemployment rate back up for a while.

All in all, the Obama White House is happy this morning. Well, at least about the employment statistics if nothing else.

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The Jobs Report

The monthly jobs report is modestly good news for the economy. While the unemployment rate stayed at 6.7 percent, the economy created 192,000 new jobs and the job totals for January and February were upped by a combined 37,000. There was other good news too. Teenage unemployment declined from 21.4 percent to 20.9. But the unemployment rate for black teenagers (which tends to be volatile) rose from 32.4 to 36.1. That might reflect more black teenagers coming into the job market, looking for employment. The participation rate ticked up from 63 to 63.2 percent. But it’s still down from a year ago, when it was at 63.3.

The economy needs at least 250,000 new jobs a month to achieve a steady decline in the unemployment rate and we have had only three months with job creation that robust since the end of 2011. So the recovery remains sluggish.

The administration will undoubtedly be touting the fact that the economy now has more private-sector jobs (116.09 million) than at the former peak in January 2008, when there were 115.98 million private-sector jobs. But don’t look for the administration to take note that since January 2008, governments have shed a total of 535,000 jobs, so the national job total is still well below the pre-recession peak. It won’t make the point either that the civilian labor force is 2 million people larger than it was six years ago, and that the participation rate was then 66.2 percent as opposed to today’s 63.2 percent.

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The monthly jobs report is modestly good news for the economy. While the unemployment rate stayed at 6.7 percent, the economy created 192,000 new jobs and the job totals for January and February were upped by a combined 37,000. There was other good news too. Teenage unemployment declined from 21.4 percent to 20.9. But the unemployment rate for black teenagers (which tends to be volatile) rose from 32.4 to 36.1. That might reflect more black teenagers coming into the job market, looking for employment. The participation rate ticked up from 63 to 63.2 percent. But it’s still down from a year ago, when it was at 63.3.

The economy needs at least 250,000 new jobs a month to achieve a steady decline in the unemployment rate and we have had only three months with job creation that robust since the end of 2011. So the recovery remains sluggish.

The administration will undoubtedly be touting the fact that the economy now has more private-sector jobs (116.09 million) than at the former peak in January 2008, when there were 115.98 million private-sector jobs. But don’t look for the administration to take note that since January 2008, governments have shed a total of 535,000 jobs, so the national job total is still well below the pre-recession peak. It won’t make the point either that the civilian labor force is 2 million people larger than it was six years ago, and that the participation rate was then 66.2 percent as opposed to today’s 63.2 percent.

All in all, the new jobs report displays an economy that is growing but hardly soaring. It’s not yet morning in America, to coin a phrase, but there is, perhaps, a hint of pink in the east.

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The Jobs Report

The news is better this month, in that 175,000 jobs were created in February, up from January’s 129,000 and December’s dismal 84,000. Economists had been predicting 152,000 new jobs. But the unemployment rate ticked up a notch to 6.7 percent because while the labor force increased, so did the number of unemployed. Partly that is because more people have started looking for jobs, which is a good sign.

The number of long-term unemployed, out of work for more than half a year, has increased by 203,000 to 3.8 million. That’s 37 percent of total unemployment. Teenage unemployment went up for the second straight month, to 21.4 percent. Black unemployment went down a notch, to a still distressing 12 percent.

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The news is better this month, in that 175,000 jobs were created in February, up from January’s 129,000 and December’s dismal 84,000. Economists had been predicting 152,000 new jobs. But the unemployment rate ticked up a notch to 6.7 percent because while the labor force increased, so did the number of unemployed. Partly that is because more people have started looking for jobs, which is a good sign.

The number of long-term unemployed, out of work for more than half a year, has increased by 203,000 to 3.8 million. That’s 37 percent of total unemployment. Teenage unemployment went up for the second straight month, to 21.4 percent. Black unemployment went down a notch, to a still distressing 12 percent.

Economic growth has been slowing. GDP was growing at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in last year’s third quarter, but was only at 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter. Some forecasters expect GDP in this year’s first quarter (which ends March 31st) to be perhaps as little as 1.5 percent. If that turns out to be true and the trend continues, future jobs reports will not look good.

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CBO: Minimum Wage Snake Oil

Which of the following two factors would have the greatest impact on the economy: Raising the wages of less than a million Americans from slightly below the poverty line to slightly above it or putting half a million poor people out of work? The answer to that question may be the deciding factor in determining whether Congress accedes to President Obama’s demand to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.15 from the current figure of $7.50. But then again, it may not. Raising the minimum wage is a popular idea. The president’s catch phrase, that Congress should “give America a raise,” polled well before and after it was used in the State of the Union address. Every discussion of the proposal hinges on conservatives pointing out the potential harm to the economy and to employment in the government intervening in the market in this manner only to have their arguments dismissed by liberals who simply say that economic principles must bow to the public desire to give low wage workers more money.

But now that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has issued a report about the potential impact of the president’s minimum wage hike proposal, it’s no longer possible to ignore the fact that a lot more harm than good will be done if Congress is foolish enough to pass such a bill. The CBO report is being reported as having “mixed results,” and that is true. The report says the wage hike will boost the income of 16.5 million Americans. That is not news. You don’t need an economics degree to understand that giving people more money means they will have more money. However, the increase would be enough to push some 900,000 over the poverty line. That’s the good news for the president in the report. Less helpful to his cause is the fact that it also says that an estimated 500,000 Americans will loose their jobs, just as conservatives have been arguing all along.

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Which of the following two factors would have the greatest impact on the economy: Raising the wages of less than a million Americans from slightly below the poverty line to slightly above it or putting half a million poor people out of work? The answer to that question may be the deciding factor in determining whether Congress accedes to President Obama’s demand to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.15 from the current figure of $7.50. But then again, it may not. Raising the minimum wage is a popular idea. The president’s catch phrase, that Congress should “give America a raise,” polled well before and after it was used in the State of the Union address. Every discussion of the proposal hinges on conservatives pointing out the potential harm to the economy and to employment in the government intervening in the market in this manner only to have their arguments dismissed by liberals who simply say that economic principles must bow to the public desire to give low wage workers more money.

But now that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has issued a report about the potential impact of the president’s minimum wage hike proposal, it’s no longer possible to ignore the fact that a lot more harm than good will be done if Congress is foolish enough to pass such a bill. The CBO report is being reported as having “mixed results,” and that is true. The report says the wage hike will boost the income of 16.5 million Americans. That is not news. You don’t need an economics degree to understand that giving people more money means they will have more money. However, the increase would be enough to push some 900,000 over the poverty line. That’s the good news for the president in the report. Less helpful to his cause is the fact that it also says that an estimated 500,000 Americans will loose their jobs, just as conservatives have been arguing all along.

How do you weigh the impact of these two aspects of a wage hike? It’s actually not all that complex. Nor does it require knowledge of higher calculus. While the increase will marginally help some people, the difference won’t be enough to make much of a difference for them. An extra $3 per hour would be useful to anyone. But the difference between $7.50 or whatever low wage some people are currently earning and the $0.00 they will be receiving when their employers are forced to lay them off because of the increased costs the new law will impose on their businesses will be felt far more both by the newly unemployed and the government that will now have to pay them unemployment benefits. The damage the minimum wage increase will do far outweighs the minimal helps it gives some recipients.

The problem with highlighting the advantages the extra money will give those who will receive the hike is that the jobs affected are still entry-level positions which were never meant to be enough to support a family. While we should not entirely dismiss the help a wage increase gives an individual, the figures are so modest that they are not likely to make that much of a difference. The wage hike will be welcomed but it won’t be enough to change anyone’s life.

Moreover, a large percentage of those who will benefit from the increase are not the working poor or any other kind of disadvantaged group. These are largely made up of teenagers of middle and upper middle class families working at summer or part-time jobs who will be among the biggest winners of the minimum wage proposal. The report points out that a whopping 29 percent of those who will benefit from the president’s largesse are actually members of families earning three times the income deemed to be at poverty level while a further six percent come from families with six times or more the poverty level.

Balanced against the minimal help given the working poor and well-off teenager is the far greater pain of those who will lose their jobs. Sending half a million Americans into the ranks of the unemployed and the grinding poverty that goes with it is bad enough. But doing so will also place intolerable demands on the public purse that will be further drained to pay for the poverty benefits for which these newly unemployed will now be eligible.

What do Democrats say to these facts? Their answer seems to be the traditional liberal practice of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying, “la, la, la.” The administration and people like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are now reduced to claiming that the CBO is wrong and that there will be no impact on employment even if logic and basic economics tells us otherwise.

The minimum wage increase may be popular but, as the CBO points out, it remains economic snake oil. Though succumbing to public sentiment and the president’s demagoguery may seem like the better part of valor, Republicans need to stand their ground and protect the nation and the half million poor Americans at risk from this dangerous proposal.

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The Jobs Report

In January the economy added 113,000 new jobs. That’s better than December’s dismal 75,000 but nowhere near the 200,000 jobs that the economy was adding from August through November last year, nor the number needed to feed robust economic growth. The unemployment rate went down to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent.

But the labor participation rate ticked up two notches to 63, from 62.8 last month. It’s still below the 63.6 where it was last January.

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In January the economy added 113,000 new jobs. That’s better than December’s dismal 75,000 but nowhere near the 200,000 jobs that the economy was adding from August through November last year, nor the number needed to feed robust economic growth. The unemployment rate went down to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent.

But the labor participation rate ticked up two notches to 63, from 62.8 last month. It’s still below the 63.6 where it was last January.

Teenage unemployment went up (to 20.7 percent from 20.2 percent) as did black unemployment (from 11.9 to 12.1). Those unemployed for more than 27 weeks decreased by 232,000 to 3.646 million, while those working part time who would rather be working full time dropped from 7.771 million to 7.257 million.

In short, it’s another typical Obama-era jobs report: not disastrous, but a long way from what a jobs report would look like in a healthy, growing economy.

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The Jobs Report

Job creation slowed markedly in December, with only a dismal 74,000 jobs created last month, the worst monthly report in three years. Economists, notorious for their clouded crystal balls, had been predicting 200,000 new jobs, above the 2013 average of 182,000 per month.

They also predicted that the unemployment rate would remain steady at 7 percent. It didn’t, it fell a full three-tenths of a percent to 6.7. But that was only because the labor participation rate fell to 62.8 percent, down two-tenths. As has been happening all through the so-called recovery, improvement in the unemployment rate has been largely the result of a shrinking labor force, not a growing jobs market. The labor participation rate is the now lowest since the days of Jimmy Carter.

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Job creation slowed markedly in December, with only a dismal 74,000 jobs created last month, the worst monthly report in three years. Economists, notorious for their clouded crystal balls, had been predicting 200,000 new jobs, above the 2013 average of 182,000 per month.

They also predicted that the unemployment rate would remain steady at 7 percent. It didn’t, it fell a full three-tenths of a percent to 6.7. But that was only because the labor participation rate fell to 62.8 percent, down two-tenths. As has been happening all through the so-called recovery, improvement in the unemployment rate has been largely the result of a shrinking labor force, not a growing jobs market. The labor participation rate is the now lowest since the days of Jimmy Carter.

Unemployment in hard-hit sectors showed little if any improvement. Teenage unemployment is at 20.3 percent (raising the minimum wage would make that worse, probably much worse, as teenagers make up a very large percentage of minimum-wage workers). Black unemployment was at 11.9 percent. People unemployed for more than 27 weeks stood at 3.9 million, 37.7 percent of total unemployment, up from 37.4 percent last month.

The question is how much longer President Obama can avoid major political damage from these numbers. The “recovery” began in June 2009, according to economists. According to millions of unemployed, under-employed, and dropouts from the labor force, it has yet to begin.

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The Jobs Report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report for November came out at 8:30 this morning. The unemployment rate fell to 7 percent in November, its lowest rate since November 2008, as the country was plunging into the deep recession. Partly, however, that reflected the recall of federal workers who had been furloughed in the shutdown of October. The economy added 203,000 jobs last month, above the average of 180,000 per month for 2013 (but which, in turn, was below 2012’s average of 183,000).

Still, while the number of those unemployed less than five weeks declined by 300,000, those unemployed for more than 27 weeks remained essentially flat at 4.1 million. The labor force participation rate, which has been in decline throughout the recession and anemic recovery, rose from 62.8 percent to 63.0.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report for November came out at 8:30 this morning. The unemployment rate fell to 7 percent in November, its lowest rate since November 2008, as the country was plunging into the deep recession. Partly, however, that reflected the recall of federal workers who had been furloughed in the shutdown of October. The economy added 203,000 jobs last month, above the average of 180,000 per month for 2013 (but which, in turn, was below 2012’s average of 183,000).

Still, while the number of those unemployed less than five weeks declined by 300,000, those unemployed for more than 27 weeks remained essentially flat at 4.1 million. The labor force participation rate, which has been in decline throughout the recession and anemic recovery, rose from 62.8 percent to 63.0.

These numbers might be good enough for the Federal Reserve to consider scaling back on its bond and mortgage purchases at the monthly meeting of its Open Market Committee later this month. That would account for the Dow being down about 70 points, as Wall Street likes the low interest rates that the Fed’s purchases have produced.

Meanwhile, the government on Thursday revised upwards its estimate of third-quarter GDP growth to 3.6 percent, the best showing since the first quarter of 2012. But much of that growth came by means of inventory growth rather than increased sales. So most economists expected fourth-quarter growth to be much more modest. The New York Times reports that Barclay’s has cut back its estimate of fourth-quarter growth to a mere 1.5 percent annual rate.

Overall, the news is moderately good. There is still no boom in sight, but at least things are moving in the right direction, if modestly.

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The Jobs Report

The new jobs report showed much stronger than expected job growth in October, up 203,000 when the forecast had been 120,000. The job growth for September and August were also revised upwards, giving an average for the three months of over 200,000, which is the number economists think is needed to bring unemployment down in the long term (the drop in unemployment in recent months was mostly due to people dropping out of the job market).

The unemployment rate actually ticked up last month, however, to 7.3 percent, but that was due to counting temporarily laid-off federal workers because of the shutdown early in the month.

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The new jobs report showed much stronger than expected job growth in October, up 203,000 when the forecast had been 120,000. The job growth for September and August were also revised upwards, giving an average for the three months of over 200,000, which is the number economists think is needed to bring unemployment down in the long term (the drop in unemployment in recent months was mostly due to people dropping out of the job market).

The unemployment rate actually ticked up last month, however, to 7.3 percent, but that was due to counting temporarily laid-off federal workers because of the shutdown early in the month.

Markets immediately reflected the possibility that the Federal Reserve might now begin to scale back the stimulus. The yield on 10-year treasury bonds rose to 2.72 percent in early trading from last evening’s 2.60 percent. But it will take more than one month’s good news to induce the Fed to move more than slightly.

And the jobs report was by no means all good news. The participation rate (the percentage of working-age people in the labor force) continued to decline, now down to 62.8 percent from 63.2 last month. The unemployment rates for teenagers (22.2 percent) and blacks (13.1 percent) remain dismal. The rate for teenagers is likely to go up in the future, as several localities, such as the state of New Jersey, raised their minimum wages in the election on Tuesday. When the teenage (i.e. unskilled) unemployment rate is over 20 percent, increasing the price of unskilled labor is economic lunacy.

The broader measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged job seekers and those involuntarily working part time, increased last month from 13.6 percent to 13.8 percent. It is only when this rate begins to decline substantially month-over-month that we can say we are, finally, on the way up.

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The Jobs Report

Thanks to the government shutdown, the jobs report, due out October 4, only came out today. Next month’s will be late as well, coming out on November 8 instead of November 1.

The economy added 148,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell by a tick, to 7.2 percent. These numbers will, of course, be touted as good news by the administration, but it’s basically more of the same: slow job grow and an unemployment rate more affected by people dropping out of the work force than by growth. In the last year of “recovery” the unemployment rate has fallen only from 7.8 percent to 7.2 percent, while the participation rate (the percentage of adults in the workforce) declined from 63.6 to 63.2.

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Thanks to the government shutdown, the jobs report, due out October 4, only came out today. Next month’s will be late as well, coming out on November 8 instead of November 1.

The economy added 148,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell by a tick, to 7.2 percent. These numbers will, of course, be touted as good news by the administration, but it’s basically more of the same: slow job grow and an unemployment rate more affected by people dropping out of the work force than by growth. In the last year of “recovery” the unemployment rate has fallen only from 7.8 percent to 7.2 percent, while the participation rate (the percentage of adults in the workforce) declined from 63.6 to 63.2.

The number of jobs created in September was below expectations (economists were expecting about 185,000 jobs created) and way below the average for the last year (193,000). And the unemployment rate for teenagers (21.4 percent) and blacks (12.9) remain dismal. The unemployment rate for those 18-29, many of them just entering the workforce, is 15.9 percent, a tremendous headwind for somebody with a necessarily short résumé.

The broader measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers and those working part time who want full-time jobs, is 13.6 percent.

Altogether, the numbers are depressing if not indicative of a depression.

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The Jobs Report

The July jobs report came in from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning. There were 162,000 jobs created last month and the unemployment rate fell from 7.6 to 7.4 percent. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008, the month before Barack Obama became president. That will, undoubtedly, be tomorrow’s headline in the Obama media.

But the civilian participation rate and the employment-population ratio both went down and lag behind where they were a year ago. Unemployment among groups such as blacks (12.5 percent) and teenagers (20.3) remains dismal. The unemployment rate among black teenagers is a horrendous 41.6 percent. In other words, more than two in every five teenage blacks who want a job can’t find one.

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The July jobs report came in from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning. There were 162,000 jobs created last month and the unemployment rate fell from 7.6 to 7.4 percent. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008, the month before Barack Obama became president. That will, undoubtedly, be tomorrow’s headline in the Obama media.

But the civilian participation rate and the employment-population ratio both went down and lag behind where they were a year ago. Unemployment among groups such as blacks (12.5 percent) and teenagers (20.3) remains dismal. The unemployment rate among black teenagers is a horrendous 41.6 percent. In other words, more than two in every five teenage blacks who want a job can’t find one.

People working part-time who would rather be working full-time has shrunk in the last year by a grand total of 3,000 people, from 8,104,000 to 8,101,000. This is probably an effect of the mandate in ObamaCare to insure full-time workers if they number over 50, but part-time workers working less than 30 hours a week don’t count.

In the three years and nine months after unemployment hit its peak in the 1981-82 recession, in December 1982, unemployment shrank by 35 percent. Since unemployment peaked in June 2009, it has shrunk by only 26 percent, and if you take the number of people working part-time who would rather be working full-time, it’s much worse than that.

All in all, the Obama nonrecovery proceeds apace.

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The Jobs Report

According to the jobs report released this morning, the recovery continues to dawdle along, confirming its status as the worst recovery since the Great Depression.

There were 165,000 jobs created last month, and the unemployment rate dropped another tenth of a percent, to 7.5 percent. That’s down four-tenths of a percent since January. But, again, much of the drop in unemployment has not come about through job growth but through workers dropping out of the labor force. The participation rate, the percentage of the population holding jobs, remained unchanged over last month, at 63.3 percent, but that’s down from 63.6 percent in January. It has been dropping steadily throughout the so-called recovery.

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According to the jobs report released this morning, the recovery continues to dawdle along, confirming its status as the worst recovery since the Great Depression.

There were 165,000 jobs created last month, and the unemployment rate dropped another tenth of a percent, to 7.5 percent. That’s down four-tenths of a percent since January. But, again, much of the drop in unemployment has not come about through job growth but through workers dropping out of the labor force. The participation rate, the percentage of the population holding jobs, remained unchanged over last month, at 63.3 percent, but that’s down from 63.6 percent in January. It has been dropping steadily throughout the so-called recovery.

The jobless rate among teenagers (24.1 percent), blacks (13.2) and Hispanics, (9.0) remains dismal. So does the number of people working part-time for lack of a full-time job, which increased by 278,000 to 7.9 million.

All in all, a status quo report where the status is pretty lousy.

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The Jobs Report

It’s a status quo jobs report this month, with little significant change in the numbers. The good news is the unemployment rate went down by a tick to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. The bad news is that the civilian labor force declined as well, by 493,000 people, and the participation rate, the percentage of the adult population in the labor force, declined to 63.1 percent, the lowest number in the 21st century. When President Obama took office, it was 65.7 percent. So the decline in unemployment is almost entirely due to a declining labor force, not a growing job pool. The number of new jobs in March was a mere 88,000, nowhere near enough to reduce unemployment on its own.

What is causing this stagnant job market after so deep a recession? The answer is that the amount of uncertainty in the marketplace is not declining, indeed it is growing, and there is nothing markets hate more than uncertainty. Europe’s deteriorating financial and economic situation is surely not helping, nor is the forthcoming implementation of Obamacare, with a legion of unanswered questions about how it will affect businesses from the Fortune 500 on down. When even two-thirds of Democrats think that Obamacare will either adversely impact them personally or have no effect, there is going to be a strong tendency to wait and see what happens.

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It’s a status quo jobs report this month, with little significant change in the numbers. The good news is the unemployment rate went down by a tick to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. The bad news is that the civilian labor force declined as well, by 493,000 people, and the participation rate, the percentage of the adult population in the labor force, declined to 63.1 percent, the lowest number in the 21st century. When President Obama took office, it was 65.7 percent. So the decline in unemployment is almost entirely due to a declining labor force, not a growing job pool. The number of new jobs in March was a mere 88,000, nowhere near enough to reduce unemployment on its own.

What is causing this stagnant job market after so deep a recession? The answer is that the amount of uncertainty in the marketplace is not declining, indeed it is growing, and there is nothing markets hate more than uncertainty. Europe’s deteriorating financial and economic situation is surely not helping, nor is the forthcoming implementation of Obamacare, with a legion of unanswered questions about how it will affect businesses from the Fortune 500 on down. When even two-thirds of Democrats think that Obamacare will either adversely impact them personally or have no effect, there is going to be a strong tendency to wait and see what happens.

If a Republican were in the White House, the mainstream media would be howling in outrage about this continuing terrible job market and demanding action. But since it’s Obama in the White House the MSM will undoubtedly be doing its usual oh-look!-a-squirrel! routine.

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European Manufacturing

When I wrote yesterday about the growing unemployment in Europe, I noted that manufacturing in Europe was in real trouble, having been losing jobs every month for quite a while now.

Today Walter Russell Mead explains one big reason why: natural gas. Natural gas now costs about one-fourth as much in the United States as it does in Europe. The reason for that is, of course, fracking, which has been largely welcomed in the United States, except on federal land and such places as New York State. There Governor Andrew Cuomo would rather pander to the “environmentalists” who show up at expensive Democratic fundraisers in chic New York City venues than help out the deeply depressed upstate economy, which is sitting on trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.

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When I wrote yesterday about the growing unemployment in Europe, I noted that manufacturing in Europe was in real trouble, having been losing jobs every month for quite a while now.

Today Walter Russell Mead explains one big reason why: natural gas. Natural gas now costs about one-fourth as much in the United States as it does in Europe. The reason for that is, of course, fracking, which has been largely welcomed in the United States, except on federal land and such places as New York State. There Governor Andrew Cuomo would rather pander to the “environmentalists” who show up at expensive Democratic fundraisers in chic New York City venues than help out the deeply depressed upstate economy, which is sitting on trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.

In Europe, however, despite much potential for fracking natural gas, the greens have largely prevented its exploitation. That has had and will have a serious impact on European manufacturing. Mead quotes the Washington Post which graphs the price differential:

Top BASF [a giant German chemical firm] officials say that unless Europe allows a more aggressive approach to energy production, including broader use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, even more manufacturing will move to the United States.

As Mead says, “this is yet another reason to be optimistic about America’s future.”

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