Follow us:

Jon Talton

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

February 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Muddled jobless report doesn’t change painful reality for millions

Sure, blame the bad weather for the confusing unemployment report today. That’s as good an explanation as any. The jobless rate fell to 9 percent in January. Yaaaay! The economy only added 36,000 jobs. Huh?

Yes, the Labor Department does two different surveys to determine unemployment, and they seem to be in conflict for January. Let’s wait a month. In any event, Economic Policy Institute economist Heidi Shierholz said, “One thing is crystal clear: The U.S. labor market started 2011 with half a million fewer jobs than it had eleven years ago, in January 2000, though the labor force has grown by nearly 11 million workers since then. Today’s numbers are a testament to both the enormity of the current labor market crisis plus the very weak jobs growth of the 2000-2007 business cycle.”

Diane Swonk, chief economist of Mesirow Financial in snowy Chicago, strikes an optimistic note: “We seem to have hit a tipping point, with labor markets healing, probably faster than the government can actually capture, at this stage of the recovery.”

Speaking of EPI, it has released its State of Working America, all online and interactive now. The report is a valuable tool to understanding what’s going on with jobs, wages, changes in the economy, income inequality, poverty and more.

Among the highlights: The U.S. workforce is larger, better educated and more diverse than ever before; while productivity rates have kept rising, they are lower in recent decades than those in the 25 years after World War II; finance has risen markedly as a share of GDP, now essentially matching that of manufacturing; economic expansions no longer roll back poverty.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

If JP made off

With ignoring Bernie’s scam

Jamie’s sheen is gone

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►