Saturday, April 05, 2008

-80



No, it's not President Bush's latest approval rating...it's Friday's Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And with reports like this one, I'm sure glad to have another year and a half of student-dom in my future.

As usual, labor economist extraordinaire Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute has the lowdown on all the numbers. "How is the employment situation?" you ask...not too good:

The nation's job market appears solidly in recession, as payrolls contracted for the third month in a row...Since employment peaked in December, payrolls have contracted by 232,000. Private sector payrolls were down 98,000 last month and 109,000 in February. Since hiring in the government sector is less susceptible to cyclical swings in the overall economy, private sector job patterns provide a clearer signal of the weakening labor market. Private sector jobs are down 300,000 from their peak in November.

Particularly shocking of the most recent business cycle expansion was the fact that
the employment rate actually fell over this cycle, by 1.6 percentage points (March 2001-December 2007). This is the first cycle on record marked by a decline in the employment rate. It is also a potent indicator of the weakness of labor demand over the cycle, and one reason why workers' bargaining power was never strong enough to create much real wage pressure during this period.

But don't worry. Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and even the President Pro Tem himself have the situation under control. What's that they say about dancing while Rome burns?

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