Friday, April 02, 2004


Good news from the BLS this morning: the economy added 308,000 jobs in March. (Cautionary note: this number is a preliminary estimate and is often revised in subsequent releases).

The unemployment rate ticked up a notch to 5.7%, likely because people stopped fleeing the labor force for the first time in a while. In fact, the labor force grew by 179,000 peopple. This is a small first step in bringing back the 2.63 million or so people who gave up even trying to look for jobs in the Bush economy:

In other good news of sorts, the manufacturing sector stopped hemmorhaging jobs after 71 straight months of declines. Manufacturing jobs were unchanged.

We can be certain that the Bush administration will be trumpeting today's employment numbers (Get ready for a few days of Texas-sized Bush smirks--ugh) for the next month. Their operative three words: tax cuts work.

Not so fast. The Bush administration's economic forecasters sold the euphamistically named "Jobs and Growth" tax giveaway to the rich on the prediction that it would generate 306,000 jobs each month. This is the first month that they have ever reached their target. Overall, they are still 2.152 million jobs behind their prediction. According to the administration's forecast, if we had done nothing (i.e. no tax cut), the economy would have produced 2.283 million jobs all by itself with no need to hand ginormous tax breaks to the $300,000+ a year crowd.

In order to get back to the same level of private sector employment at the start of the Bush presidency, the economy will need sustained job growth of 369,000 every month through the end of October 2004. In order for the manufacturing sector to recover its level of employment, we'll need 398,000 manufacturing jobs every month.

**UPDATE: Journalists are already whiffing on the jobs report. The AP writes: "companies added 308,000 new jobs -- the most in four years." This is simply not true. If one looks at the numbers not even very closely, the private sector added 277,000 jobs and government added 31,000 jobs. A little arithmetic goes a long way.

***UPDATE: Maxspeak observes that the household survey recently lauded (until this morning) by the Bush administration as a better indicator of job growth than the widely accepted establishment survey actually shows a loss of 3,000 jobs.


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