The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer asked for some comments on this morning's employment report. Here's what I gave them; you can read other comments on the NewsHour website:
The economy is on the mend.
We have a long way to go before employment is back to normal, but the
evidence shows progress. The
production-based indicators, such as gross domestic product and industrial
production have clearly bounced back.
We’re probably just one quarter away from reaching our old peak level of
real GDP. The employment-based
indicators have been slower to rebound, but now show gains. Total non-farm employment (the standard
measure) has grown in each of the last four months, with strong gains the last
two months. Although Census workers
inflated the increases, even without them the gains are substantial.
Manufacturing, an important bellwether, has added workers in
the last four months. Temporary help
agency employment has also expanded, which is often a leading indicator for the
The rise of the unemployment rate is even a positive
sign. The number of employed people
rose, but the number of people looking for work increased even more. To be counted toward the unemployment rate,
a jobless person must have been looking for work in the past four weeks. Otherwise, that jobless person is considered
“not in the labor force.” The increase
in the number of people looking for work is a sign that the jobless are less
discouraged about job prospects than they had been a few months ago.