Jobless news good, kind of
March 09, 2010 01:00 AM | 672 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is an indication of how far the economy had fallen that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid termed as "really good" the news that "only" 36,000 Americans had lost their jobs in February. It is good only in the sense that the monthly figures over the past 27 months have generally been so much worse.

President Barack Obama was more measured in reacting to the latest jobless rate: "actually better than expected" - then again, not much was expected of the job market. The unemployment rate was expected to rise to 9.8 percent; it was 9.7 percent. Some 68,000 workers were expected to lose their jobs; 36,000 did.

And there are some analysts even more optimistic than Reid who believe the economy added more jobs than it lost last month but the net gain was masked by the East Coast blizzards, and the White House suggested as much.

However, ever cautious, that was not a judgment the Department of Labor was prepared to make in terms of employment and hours worked because "it is not possible to quantify precisely the net impact of the winter storms on these measures."

The Associated Press take on these latest statistics is probably the correct one: "These figures suggested the job market is slowly healing but that significant hiring has yet to occur."

That seemed evident in the underemployment percentage of workers who have quit looking and part-timers who can't get full-time work. That rose slightly from 16.5 percent to 16.8 percent.

The fact that the overall unemployment rate has remained unchanged since last October indicates that joblessness has likely bottomed out. But clawing our way back will take a long time, considering the 8.4 million jobs lost since the start of the recession.
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