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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 8, 2009 at 8:39 AM

Hold off on the party over the April unemployment report

Top of the News: Another 539,000 jobs were lost last month. This is causing all sorts of experts to predict a turnaround — but, then, these were the experts who said there was no housing bubble and the financial system would never lose Bear, Sterns and Lehman.

It’s an ever-so-slight improvement in a very bad situation, but it matters only if the numbers of jobless continue going down in the months ahead. Even that’s not a turnaround. The April numbers were “better” than March’s 699,000 — but the March numbers were revised upward.

A good part of the “improvement” in April’s numbers came from temporary government hiring (especially for the Census). Thus, we’re still facing continued widespread labor market troubles in the private sector. Take out the government hiring, and the loss of private sector jobs last month totaled 611,000.

At the same time, many industries are cutting or freezing pay. And recent past recessions have been followed by prolonged periods of little job growth. And we’re not even there yet. The April unemployment report is no sign of a turning point. It may, at best, be a sign of hitting a very low bottom.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

With sales going flat

You might think that Nintendo

Has a Wii problem

Today’s Econ Haiku poll comes along at noon. Vote early and often for your favorite of the week — or write your own.

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment

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