Unemployment: Down, but figures still disappointing
April 09, 2012 12:00 AM | 1238 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
March’s national jobless rate was 8.2 percent, a good number, the lowest level in three years and continuing a steady monthly decline that began last August, and that’s how the White House will spin it.

But there’s no getting around the fact that the 8.2 percent figure was both a disappointment and an unpleasant surprise. It was that low only because many Americans stopped looking for work and thus weren’t counted in the survey.

The hopes were that for the fourth month in a row the economy would add more than 200,000 jobs. One respected forecast predicted 205,000 jobs and even the most pessimistic foresaw 175,000.

Instead the economy added only 120,000 jobs, the least since last October, an indication that the job market recovery has effectively stalled, one hopes only temporarily.

The private sector added 121,000 jobs but that was offset by a cut of 1,000 in government payrolls. Still, that 1,000 figure may be an indication that public sector layoffs have started to plateau.

Male participation in the workforce was up 14,000, but female participation was down 177,000, mainly due to layoffs in the retail sector, where the workforce is heavily female, and an 8,000 decline in hiring by temporary help firms.

Searching for some scrap of good news in the March numbers, Alan Krueger, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, noted, “Manufacturing continues to be a bright spot and added 37,000 jobs in March.”

And then he rather undercut that message by adding, “After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 466,000 manufacturing jobs in the past 25 months — the strongest growth for any 25 month period since September 1995.”

In other words, we’re still millions of manufacturing jobs short of where we need to be.

Economic growth slowed to 2 percent in the first quarter, below economists’ expectations of 2.5 percent for the year. As the Associated Press points out, “Normally, it takes annual growth of 4 percent to lower the unemployment rate 1 percentage point over a year.”

For what consolation it’s worth to the White House, other economic indicators — consumer spending, investing in plant and equipment, factory orders and output — are strong, outpacing that of the European Union.

If the March jobless figures are an aberration, President Barack Obama should be OK on that issue come the fall campaign. But if they reflect a trend, he will be very much on the defensive
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WestCobber
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April 11, 2012
If youa re gonig to write an editorial like this, would it not be a service to your readers to provide all of the facts - like the actual number of unemployed/underemployed. The figures that come out of Washingvton are for people receiving unemployment benefits. It does not take into account those who are still unemployed, but whose benefits have run out, those who have just given up trying to find work, and those who have taken part time low paying jobs just to try to get by. Please does your readers a service when you write an editorial like this, and give them all the facts. We can watch main stream media and get the cheering section every night - how about some facts and figures for a change.
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