published Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Jobs and growth taking off

A Labor Department report on Friday affirmed that employers added increasingly larger numbers of new jobs in February, maintaining important upward trends in broad job growth and reflecting an economy that is strengthening despite significant headwinds abroad.

The report showed 227,000 net new jobs in February across broad sectors of the economy. That number follows the 284,000 net new jobs in January and 223,000 jobs in December. That brawny total of 734,000 net new jobs in the past three months continues a string of more than six consecutive months of job growth at monthly net levels above 200,000. Overall, the economy has added more than 3.9 million new private sector payroll jobs over 24 straight months of job growth. That's more than three-and-a-half times the number of total net jobs added in the entire eight years of George W. Bush's tenure.

These are good numbers, and good trends. The last three months' figures are more remarkable because they are the best three-month job growth figures since the Great Recession began in December 2007.

The nation's unemployment level remained at 8.3 percent. Though the February jobless rate marked the first time in six months that there was no decline in the jobless rate, it reflected positive offsetting factors. One was an increase of 476,000 in the size of the labor force last month as discouraged workers began looking again for a job. Another was a welcome reduction in the number of workers exiting their jobs in January and February.

Though job growth remains below the rate needed to rapidly reduce unemployment to the more ideal 4 percent level, it is surprisingly strong given the repeated shocks that have jolted national and global growth. BP's huge oil spill off the Gulf Coast, for example, was followed by the tsunami and nuclear disaster that for months interrupted Japan's vital technology-supplier exports for manufacturing globally. More recently, Europe's deepening sovereign debt crisis in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy has slowly re-ignited recession in the broader euro zone, hampering American exports.

Still, the American manufacturing sector has surged, even as China's and India's job-suctioning prowess has expanded its competitive critical mass. Manufacturing growth isn't the only measure that counts. The Labor Department's separate survey of households, done apart from the regular employment data, suggests the economy is growing faster that the latter suggests.

The household survey, the Washington Post reported Friday, found that 428,000 more Americans had jobs than the month before, and the number of employed people rose by 1.45 million in the previous three months. That would be the largest three-month gain in employment since March 2000.

Regardless of party, the political ramifications of the new job numbers are significant. If job growth continues near the current pace, it almost certainly will lift President Obama's re-election prospects, and hurt the Republican nominee. And vice-versa. If jobs swell at a 200,000 a month pace, the jobless rate will drop under the 8 percent rate Obama promised. If it doesn't, Republicans will claim he's failed -- never mind their repeated efforts to cripple his economic initiatives, or the utter depth of the Great Recession.

Indeed, Americans have to wonder if Republicans are now saber-rattling about Iran, a significant oil exporter, to deliberately drive up the price of oil and gas in order to suppress American's consumer spending and sour the economy. Such manipulation is possible. If voters measure economic strategy fairly, however, they will see that Obama's policies are working.

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joneses said...

Here is the liberal lie this article is not telling us. This pathetic president's administration adds 125,000 brand new foreign workers with work permits each month. So out of the 200,000 jobs 125,000 are low paying jobs to those who cross our borders illegally. But hey when you have a failure as a president you liberals need to buy all the votes you can right?

March 10, 2012 at 5:32 a.m.
charivara said...

For anyone interested in what is happening in the real world the following website also has report on the employment situation:

March 10, 2012 at 7:23 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Hold the applause! The gains in jobs and growth are ALL due to a gargantuan dose of deficit spending that is causing more problems than the meager increases we are enjoying(?). In our desperation to spur the economy we entered a whole new era of government intervention into the marketplace. The bond market, the stock market, the currency market, the futures market...all these and more are no longer "free markets". Our central bank now routinely performs interventions that would land a private citizen in jail.

While free enterprise/free markets have always had varying degrees of government control, that level of control now overwhelms the markets, leaving only the few with foreknowledge and advanced IT systems for success. This intervention targets winners and losers, creating unintended distortions and weaknesses that will plague our economy for a very long time.

And what have we really gained?

In the last twelve years the percentage of Americans with jobs has fallen from 63% to 57%. The quality of jobs is in freefall. Many of the employed are part-time...involuntarily. The deficit stimulus has badly undermined the credibility of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency. Other countries are now actively striking deals that will lead to the US losing this biggest advantage of all.

And even with this massive stimulus, growth has been hovering at very low levels. Without BLS statistical formula modification over the last two decades, we would now be acknowledging what most of us suspect...that we are still mired in recession.

This is no time to pronounce that growth and jobs have turned the corner. We have small statistical upticks that may give us hope, but we have created far bigger debt and currency problems that are looming.

March 11, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.
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