How Far We Have To Go On Jobs

I’ve  been super-busy with little time to post. I hope to rectify that starting early this week.

In the meantime, this from Calculated Risk.com is the best summation of the current state of the employment market I’ve seen in some time. Forget all of the economists’ blather about structural versus cyclical and blah, blah, blah. The grim statistics are all that really matter. And, let me apologize in advance to Bill for putting up his entire post, but it’s just too right on the mark not to reproduce in its entirety.

As a reminder, the weak payroll report for January was blamed on the snow. Usually I don’t buy the weather excuses, but it did appear weather played a role this time. When the report was released, I wrote:

The 36,000 payroll jobs added was far below expectations of 150,000 jobs, however this was probably impacted by bad weather during the survey reference period. If so, there should be a strong bounce back in the February report.

That is a key reason the consensus is so high for February. Bloomberg has the consensus at 180,000, MarketWatch has 200,000, Goldman’s forecast is 200,000, and I heard ISI is at 230,000).

It will be useful to average the two months to estimate the current pace of payroll growth – especially if weather played a role in January and there is a strong bounce back in February.

And we have to remember the numbers are grim:
• There are 7.7 million fewer payroll jobs now than before the recession started in December 2007.
• Almost 14 million Americans are unemployed.
• Of those unemployed, 6.2 million have been unemployed for six months or more.
• Another 8.4 million are working part time for economic reasons,
• About 4 million more have left the labor force since the start of the recession (we can see this in the dramatic drop in the labor force participation rate),
• of those who have left the labor force, about 1 million are available for work, but are discouraged and have given up.

A simple calculation: If the economy is adding 125,000 jobs per month (average over two months), it would take over 5 years to add back the 7.7 million lost payroll jobs – and that doesn’t even include population growth. Grim is an understatement.

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