Bad Employment Figures

The BLS just released its new employment estimates. The unemployment rate in February is estimated to be 5.6%, unchanged from January. The more important statistic, the number of jobs in the US economy, grew by just 21,000 in February. This is a BAD number – average expectations among economists were that payrolls grew by 125,000 in February – and as I mentioned the other day, it seems that expectations were recently getting even more optimistic. But continuing the trend of the past few months, economy-watchers have been overly optimistic about the performance of the labor market, as this table from CNN/Money shows:

This jobless recovery continues to stump many economists. For a reminder of how bleak the jobs picture has been over the past couple of years, here’s the graph showing employment in the US since 1999:

Finally, let’s calculate the new Bush administration job-creation forecast. In order to reach their (admittedly disavowed) forecast for the average level of employment this year, the job creation target for the rest of the year has now gone up from 320,000 new jobs each and every month to about 350,000 for the remaining 10 months of the year. Something tells me that this number will grow even more next month…