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
Jamie’s sheen is gone