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That Big March Jobs Number

Friday, 01 April 2011 23:04

It seems that the current contingent of economics reporters are too young to remember a healthy economy. This is the only way to explain the extraordinary celebration of the gain of 216,000 jobs reported for March. While this news is certainly in the "could have been worse" category, this is hardly an impressive rate of job growth, especially for an economy recovering from a severe recession. Remember, job growth averaged 250,000 a month for the 4 years from 1996 to 2000, and that was starting from an unemployment rate that was already under 6 percent.

For those folks too young to remember how an economy is supposed to grow, I constructed a simple chart showing monthly job growth in the two years following the 74-75 recession, the 81-82 recession, and the 91-92 recession and compared them to the 216,000 job growth reported for March. (In making comparisons it is worth noting that the period following the 90-91 recession was known as the "jobless recovery.") The numbers shown are labor force adjusted which means that I multiplied the number of jobs created each month by the ratio of the March 2011 labor force to the labor force in the month given.



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics and author's calculations.

Comments (8)Add Comment
written by Alexander Davis, April 02, 2011 12:55
Ezra Klein has a nicer chart: http://www.washingtonpost.com/..._blog.html
Irredeemably Opaque
written by izzatzo, April 02, 2011 6:03
Alan Greenspan has determined that this chart is irredeemably opaque to draw longitudinal connections in job growth after recessions that reflect stability as offsets to rational exhuberance on the upside, in a transparent way of course.
Impressive analysis.
written by Jorge, April 02, 2011 11:15
And I appreciate the new format.
Know it all
written by Paine, April 02, 2011 11:33
Dean this graph wants for improvements and such

Let's start by talking rate of growth so we can make comparisons that are indeed comparisons not sky hook numbers that don't reflect the change in job force size

As to your graphic itself
Looks like bar code
Announcing the pestilence in a pocket has settled in here for some pleasure
written by Paine, April 02, 2011 11:35
Dean you are the tops baby
But I figure you could use a gad fly that zips itself now and again
Ratio in graph
written by Paine, April 02, 2011 11:41
Using ratios does get it done i guess
And it ougtha be considered kosher but rate of growth you can carry around in your head better

And non of this back fill
Gets you off the hook for using bar code
And fly speck gigglering under the horizontal axis
written by mp, April 02, 2011 12:01
"It seems that the current contingent of economics reporters are too young to remember a healthy economy."

written by JoblessInJersey, April 02, 2011 10:59
You are right, but there have been significant changes in our labor market which I can't help but think are greatly affecting our employment numbers, though we do not know exactly how or to what extent.

Frankly I question whether anyone on Planet Earth knows what our official employment numbers could be or should be at this time.

How on Earth could we even know what normal is in 2011, after the Great Recession with its massive layoffs, the presence of more than 10 million illegal immigrants workers and with all the oursourcing that's going on?

We've allowed our own economy and our own destinies to be taken out of our hands. We no longer control the American economy or our own workforce -- nobody does, as far as I can see.

We are at the mercy of various manipulators and exploiters, both foreign and domestic. That's all I am sure of.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.