The Good News: It’s Better than February
The Labor Department said 339,000 people filed new claims for state unemployment benefits in the week ended March 20, compared with a revised 338,000 the prior week. But both figures were lower than those over the past few weeks. The March 13th week’s report was the lowest number of new claims since the week of Jan. 13, 2001, when the number of new claims was only 316,000.
Here’s the score card in recent months:
Note that it takes 150,000 or so new jobs per month just to keep up with populatio growth.
Now, the White House since backed off of those predictions, but you may recall that the 2004 Economic Report of the President (Table 3-1, p. 98) predicted that the economy would average 132.7 million jobs in 2004 (not end with, but average); 2003 averaged 130.1 million jobs. For this to actually happen, the economy would have needed to add about 320,000 jobs every month in 2004 — as you can see, we’re 520,000 jobs behind.
There is at least some good news, in the latest Manpower Survey:
The quarterly survey notes that 28 percent of employers expect to hire more workers from April to June.
That’s the highest level since the first quarter of 2001 and it’s the third consecutive quarter in which U.S. employers have increased hiring.
Only six percent plan to reduce hiring in the next quarter and the rest expect no change in hiring levels.
P.S. See this post for a nice chart showing monthly job growth from 1994 to December 2003.