Some Moderately OK News

Unemployment down slightly:

The waiting game still is not over, but it may be soon.

The nation’s employers added 192,000 jobs on net in February, up from a gain of 63,000 jobs the previous month, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

While February’s number represented the fastest growth in nearly a year, it was partly the result of a bounce back from unusually depressed hiring in January, when winter weather shuttered offices and factories around the country. Taken together, the job growth for the first two months of the year has not been much better than it was last fall.

Still, economists are hopeful that the pace will soon pick up.

“Economic recoveries can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, in that it takes time to get some momentum,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “People hesitate until they feel that the recovery’s durable enough, and then they have a tendency to jump in. Maybe we’re finally getting to that jumping-in moment.”

The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.9 percent, falling below 9 percent for the first time in nearly two years. This rate, which comes from a separate survey and is based on the total number of Americans who want to work, has remained stubbornly high in the last year despite payroll growth. Altogether 13.7 million people are still out of work and actively looking.

Economists say the unemployment rate may rise temporarily in the next few months, as stronger job growth lures some discouraged workers back into the labor force. Right now the share of working-age population that is actively involved in the work force — that is, either in a job or actively looking for one — is at its lowest level in 25 years, an indication that many Americans are waiting for hiring to get better before resuming the job hunt.

At this rate, we should be back to pre-crash unemployment rates by about Obama’s 4th term. Clearly Congress can now rest from their jobs creation efforts and focus on what really counts- gays and what women do with their private parts.

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63 replies
  1. 1
    liberal says:

    I’d be more interested in the employment rate, since the UE rate ignores the people who drop out of the labor force.

  2. 2
    General Stuck says:

    Unemployment down slightly:

    The unemployment rate is a political number, everything I have read and heard, that know more about details of such a report, say that the internal details are very good. Or, solid. But it is just one month, for sure.

  3. 3
    Dennis SGMM says:

    I’m heartened by the possibility that some otherwise-useless pols may get trampled to death in the rush to grab a microphone and take credit for the one month recovery.

  4. 4
    Bulworth says:

    I’m heartened by the possibility that some otherwise-useless pols may get trampled to death in the rush to grab a microphone and take credit for the one month recovery.

    “Like” button.

  5. 5
    Bulworth says:

    Clearly Congress can now rest from their jobs creation efforts and focus on what really counts- gays and what women do with their private parts.

    No, deficits and debt and taxes and spending must be cut, NOW! Austerity now, Austerity tomorrow, Austerity forevah!

  6. 6
    Punchy says:

    Still, economists are hopeful that the pace will soon pick up

    Disgustingly, most Republicans hope it doesn’t.

  7. 7
    Culture of Truth says:

    It’s the lowest unemployment rate in almost three years.

  8. 8
    Culture of Truth says:

    What does that mean, just one month? It’s been a long term gradual turnaround.

  9. 9
    Bob says:

    Did you see Morning Joe? When the numbers were released Mark Haynes? from CNBC and Jack Welch agreed it was time for the government to get out of the way and let capitalism do it’s thing. Fucking idiots!

  10. 10
    stuckinred says:

    Georgia’s unemployment rate once again hit an all-time high of 10.4 percent in January, the state labor department reported Thursday.

    The December rate, originally reported as 10.2 percent, was revised upward to 10.4 percent, the labor department said. The state’s jobless rate was also 10.4 percent in January 2010.

  11. 11
    Jack says:

    According to the GOP, women don’t have “private parts”, they just have “naughty bits” that the GOP men have to control…

  12. 12
    General Stuck says:

    @Bulworth:

    The biggest threat to a recovery, if this is a sign that one is for real underway, are the dern rising oil prices. The thing about government spending, is that it’s benefit is to stimulate private sector business activity and hiring. Once that largely psychological state is established, government spending related to stimulation is less important. Though the specifics of where cuts happen, and their effects on actual people, especially the poor, is still something to oppose.

  13. 13
    cathyx says:

    Wait til next month when it gets adjusted. It won’t looks so good then.

    But I can hear them now, “The tax cuts are working”.

  14. 14
    piratedan says:

    @stuckinred: I believe that rise is attributed to the new Georgia statistics that classifies a fetus as a person and as such, you have all of these unproductive folks simmering in wombs when they should be out looking for work.

  15. 15
    stuckinred says:

    @piratedan: No it’s the unions!

  16. 16
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    @piratedan: Those fetuses took our jobs! They tik arr jerbs!

  17. 17
    gene108 says:

    At this rate, we should be back to pre-crash unemployment rates by about Obama’s 4th term.

    That’s private sector hiring.

    With states laying of a few hundred thousand workers every year, because states need to cut taxes and cut spending, we’re basically going to be treading water forever.

  18. 18
    Bulworth says:

    @General Stuck: Actually I was being snarky about the tax and spending cuts. I don’t want either.

  19. 19
    piratedan says:

    @stuckinred: you are on to us sir! unionized fetuses are the next logical step……

  20. 20
    clark says:

    Don’t forget cutting spending on people who don’t vote Republican.

  21. 21
    Nylund says:

    @liberal:

    I’d be more interested in the employment rate, since the UE rate ignores the people who drop out of the labor force.

    The press release gives you all the information you need to calculate that yourself. You can read about changes in labor force, discouraged workers, etc.

  22. 22
    General Stuck says:

    @Bulworth:

    Yes, I know you were snarking. But my point is that spending just for the sake of spending, after an economy jump starts, does not have any particular noble purpose, UNLESS, it is spending cuts that hurt the poor or middle class directly.

    The GAO reported something like 47 billion of government spending from duplication of various agencies. I do not support this waste, and support running government without waste, or as little as possible. I know that seems to be these days, contrary to CW on the liberal blogs, so be it.

  23. 23
    Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy says:

    I always get duck wood when economists (nominally scientists) start talking about “hope.”

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gene108:

    With states laying of a few hundred thousand workers every year, because states need to cut taxes and cut spending, we’re basically going to be treading water forever.

    Yep. Steve Benen makes this point every time the new job figures come out — the private sector is doing pretty well, but the economy is being dragged down by the massive government layoffs at the state level. Basically, Republicans are doing everything in their power to keep the unemployment rate as high as possible, and they’re doing pretty well at it.

  25. 25
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: I’d say the states slashing spending is going to be a major drain as well. Some reports suggest as many as 100,000 teachers might lose their jobs in Texas along with any number of other state employees. Whatever the final numbers, the point is that the significant layoffs that are coming in the public sector are going to have a detrimental effect on the job numbers.

  26. 26
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: Do you really believe that the cuts are going to eliminate waste when there are perfectly good teachers and poor people who can be made to suffer?

    Even so, I’m suspicious of these claims of waste. Certainly, government like all large entities has inefficiencies, but I doubt very much that they are substantial or easily eliminated (that is, it would cost more to eliminate the inefficiency than to leave it as is).

  27. 27
    General Stuck says:

    @jwb:

    I don’t think the raw numbers on public sector job woes effect the average worker in this country that much, who by a wide margin, are focused of jobs in the private sector. And mostly they don’t make their decisions on national stats, but more from changes in their immediate economic environment.

    But states in such dire straights, is going to be a drag on any recovery, to some degree. I just think the biggest threat is rising oil prices, that have a very negative immediate effect on private sector hiring.

  28. 28
    General Stuck says:

    @jwb:

    Do you really believe that the cuts are going to eliminate waste when there are perfectly good teachers and poor people who can be made to suffer?

    Please read my entire comment

    UNLESS, it is spending cuts that hurt the poor or middle class directly.

    I was talking specifically about waste from duplication of services in the federal government. Do you support such a thing? really?

  29. 29
    Rick Taylor says:

    “Economic recoveries can be like a snowball rolling down a hill, in that it takes time to get some momentum,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “People hesitate until they feel that the recovery’s durable enough, and then they have a tendency to jump in. Maybe we’re finally getting to that jumping-in moment.”

    A real economist said this? It sounds like he’s just making stuff up.

  30. 30
    Stefan says:

    Even so, I’m suspicious of these claims of waste. Certainly, government like all large entities has inefficiencies, but I doubt very much that they are substantial or easily eliminated (that is, it would cost more to eliminate the inefficiency than to leave it as is).

    No, no, no. It’s a clearly marked line-item in the budget: “Waste, Fraud and Abuse.” They build it in, man! All you have to do is cut the funding for the WFA line-item and you save all that money!

  31. 31
    General Stuck says:

    Even so, I’m suspicious of these claims of waste. Certainly, government like all large entities has inefficiencies, but I doubt very much that they are substantial or easily eliminated (that is, it would cost more to eliminate the inefficiency than to leave it as is).

    If such a report came from any other agency than the GAO, then I would be suspicious too. They are the closest thing we have to a non partisan straight shooting government entity. And have been for a long time.

  32. 32
    Seanly says:

    I hope to be one of those recent hires in the next month or two. Lost my job as a senior structural engineer 3 weeks ago. Combination of a work slowdown and a little screwing up on my part when my focus was off since my wife was undergoing cancer treatment. Getting to do a lot of stuff around the house as well as keep up with my dailies in Azeroth.

  33. 33
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I think we’re not being strictly fair about those state layoffs. Sure a lot of people will lose their jobs, and take a lot of demand out of the economy with them, but no one’s taking into consideration the massive increases in virtue and probity that will come from these austerity measures.

    And righteousness. We need a V3 and a P3 and an R3!

  34. 34
    General Stuck says:

    Isn’t it great being a liberal. Where any and all good news is met with a sense of impending doom.

  35. 35
    liberal says:

    @General Stuck:

    The GAO reported something like 47 billion of government spending from duplication of various agencies.

    No. AFAICT, they released dollar amounts only for some programs. “47” appears in this context, from the summary: We identified 81 areas for consideration–34 areas of potential duplication, overlap, or fragmentation as well as 47 additional cost-saving and revenue-enhancing areas.

  36. 36
    ericblair says:

    @jwb:

    Even so, I’m suspicious of these claims of waste. Certainly, government like all large entities has inefficiencies, but I doubt very much that they are substantial or easily eliminated (that is, it would cost more to eliminate the inefficiency than to leave it as is).

    Considering that this is usually pretty low-hanging fruit and an easy political win, it’s a fair bet that the actual situation is a little more complicated: maybe they kind of overlap, but you couldn’t eliminate the “duplicates” without causing major problems somewhere and it’s a bigger effort to restructure.

    Or the situation is pretty simple but “waste” in these cases means “income for politically powerful entities who are more than willing to protect them.” Medicare Advantage, for example.

  37. 37
    gene108 says:

    @General Stuck:

    I don’t think the raw numbers on public sector job woes effect the average worker in this country that much, who by a wide margin, are focused of jobs in the private sector.

    It’s all trickle down. The lack of employment in the public sector pulls down aggregate demand, which causes employers to produce less and need to hire less. Though people don’t realize it, it does get felt in the private sector by a lack of growth.

  38. 38
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: I don’t think we disagree, I’m just saying that the wingnuts will use the excuse to cut to eviscerate good programs and make people suffer, because, unlike you, they are not interested in making government efficient. Actually, improving government efficiency at doing anything but paying off donors is the last thing on their mind.

  39. 39
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: If that’s the case, then the problem is undoubtedly congresscritters, who like certain kinds of inefficiencies (those that flow to their districts or donors). But that also makes those inefficiencies very difficult to eliminate. Not saying we shouldn’t try to; just pointing out that there will be a significant political cost to doing so.

    ETA: Or did you misread the amount of waste identified?

  40. 40
    liberal says:

    @ericblair:

    Or the situation is pretty simple but “waste” in these cases means “income for politically powerful entities who are more than willing to protect them.” Medicare Advantage, for example.

    Looking quickly at the report, which is at www dot gao dot gov, it looks like a lot of it is DOD or DOD health care.

  41. 41
    General Stuck says:

    @liberal:

    We identified 81 areas for consideration—34 areas of potential duplication, overlap, or fragmentation as well as 47 additional cost-saving and revenue-enhancing areas.

    Okay, that was 47 areas, not necessarily billions of dollars. I’m not sure what “additional cost saving and revenue enhancing areas” means, but my point is, there are places where overlaps do occur, and if they do not cause people to get hurt, then it is a political weapon democrats can use to counter the wingnuts draconian proposals, as meeting them halfway.

    It is all a big pol game right now, like it or not. And the target for the GOP is killing HCR, not cutting spending, they could care less about. And whatever the amount of dollars the GAO identified is mostly beside the point.

    I would hope that ideological hard charging, such as what we have seen from Scott Walker, might convince some on the left, that Obama, or dems as a group, would want to avoid.

    Knee jerking that we can’t cut anything or our tribe loses, might be a good strategy in a country where there were more than 10 or 15 percent self identified liberal voters. But that is not this country.

    I would not support cuts that hurt the poor or middle class in a substantial way, but there are areas to consider for cuts that wouldn’t do that. That is all I am saying.

  42. 42
    jwb says:

    @ericblair: Yes, I agree. A certain amount of inefficiency is almost always intractable, meaning that it costs more to eliminate it than to tolerate it, and the big bugaboo of government waste is almost always of the intractable type (though usually what makes it intractable are the political rather than economic or logistical costs).

  43. 43
    General Stuck says:

    @gene108:

    Yes, any loss of jobs and the purchasing power that represents will affect demand and econ activity. But a great deal? I doubt that, but you could be right. Firing teachers though, in any state, is going to incur some voter wrath, as it is as much a pol act, than genuine necessity. imo.

  44. 44
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: “I would not support cuts that hurt the poor or middle class in a substantial way, but there are areas to consider for cuts that wouldn’t do that. That is all I am saying.”

    And I think we can count on this particular President to be on this case, so it’s not an issue that gives me a lot of concern.

  45. 45
    General Stuck says:

    A note to those I am debating. My Comcast internet is set to be turned off at any time, so if I disappear, this has been a good respectful debate, so far.

  46. 46
    Maude says:

    @Seanly:
    You were distracted and rightfully so. Your wife is far more important than that job. I’m not saying money isn’t important, but she comes first.

  47. 47
    General Stuck says:

    @jwb:

    And I think we can count on this particular President to be on this case, so it’s not an issue that gives me a lot of concern.

    I don’t we are generally disagreeing either, and certainly agree with the above.

  48. 48
    Ailuridae says:

    @gene108:

    That’s a strange definition of trickle down.

    The long term deficit* is by far best addressed by aggressively bringing the unemployment rate down immediately. This was also true two years ago. Pretending otherwise because it appeals to your sense of what is appropriate doesn’t change the underlying reality. And we have a convenient test lab in belt-tightening in the UK and to a lesser extent Ireland. The results have been disastrous.

    *Actually the long term deficit can be fixed by simply addressing health care adequately which, again, means either setting reimbursement rates across the entire health care industry or introducing actual competition. But that is neither here nor there.

  49. 49
    Mike in NC says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Republicans are doing everything in their power to keep the unemployment rate as high as possible, and they’re doing pretty well at it.

    Sounds like they’ll be burning the midnight oil on Capitol Hill to see what can be done to drive up unemployment figures.

  50. 50
    Ailuridae says:

    Also, just a little personal anecdote about an issue that shows up in the GAO report. The GAO reports that there are several (five or six) federal programs that look to help the homeless. The total budget for these programs is 3B dollars. And if you’ve worked with the homeless in a major city you’ll recognize some things. If you are running a shelter and hoping to receive money you get help for housing from a different federal group than help for food than help for job training than help for health care than help for transportation. But is that duplication?

    And if it is duplication what is Tom Coburn’s solution to the issue. There is an obvious solution to me – great a single organization that handles all of these requests. You might lessen the staff load it’ll likely be more efficient, it will make my food depository have less hassles etc. But nobody in the GOP is suggesting strengthening a federal government agency to handle all homeless issues.

    FWIW, post recession there are somewhere betwee 1.9 and 3.8 million Americans who are homeless. The federal government spends a little less than 3B on this issue. That’s one billion less than the cost to US consumers of the sugar subsidy that genuinely benefits a handful of families.

  51. 51
    catclub says:

    @gene108: “we’re basically going to be treading water forever.”

    Which is still far better than drowning quickly
    (in oil pollutd waters).
    Or being consumed in atomic fireballs.

    So look on the bright side, Mr Mopeypants!

  52. 52
    Bill Murray says:

    @catclub: all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds

  53. 53
    Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy says:

    Two points: The GAO is nominally apolitical, but structurally it is a small-c conservative organization with a tendency to favor the status quo,

    and

    The GAO is entirely a creature of the legislative branch, and as such its investigations can be queered by the precise construction of the question submitted by the Congressperson in question. While the GAO does tend to be highly data driven, one must read the reports with a recognition of the constraints under which the organization operates.

    It is also interesting to follow some of the sniping that goes on between IGs and the GAO over who is and is not above reproach.

  54. 54
    gene108 says:

    @Ailuridae:

    That’s a strange definition of trickle down.

    Trickle sideways maybe better?

    Whatever, laying off teachers and other government employees, will have an impact on everyone else’s pocketbook. Though many people may not see it in their day to day lives.

    The loss of purchasing power has to trickle somewhere.

  55. 55
    Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy says:

    OK, technically that should be IsG (Inspectors General), but that’s just godsdamned confusing, what with it being a remnant of the Romance languages’ contribution to English.

  56. 56
    Ailuridae says:

    @gene108:

    Trickle down in the sense of supply-side economics doesn’t seem apt. It seems to me you’re talking about pretty orthodox economics. In short, when people have jobs, they buy shit and that helps the businesses.

  57. 57
    BC says:

    @jwb: Oh, I didn’t know public sector jobs had anything to do with the economy. Haven’t we learned from John Boehner that if public employees lose their jobs, “so be it”? Those public sector employees aren’t really people, you know, or voters-they must be from outer space or live in Mexico or Canada.

  58. 58
    Calouste says:

    @Stefan:

    In the budget the clearly marked line item “Waste, Fraud and Abuse.” is spelled as DoD. And even then $47 billion is only 7% of the Defense budget.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ericblair:

    Or the situation is pretty simple but “waste” in these cases means “income for politically powerful entities who are more than willing to protect them.” Medicare Advantage, for example.

    Ding ding ding. Right now, the Army doesn’t want any more Humvees. They already have too many. Sec. Gates went in front of Congress to tell them that he wants to cut that from his budget and put the money towards things he actually needs.

    Unfortunately for him, the Humvees are build in the district of a powerful Republican, so he’s just going to have to deal with the influx of completely unnecessary equipment.

  60. 60
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    This is Great News for the Firebaggers.

    Geez, I know the F’tards hate Obama, but geez, adding 200,000 is nice, much better than losing 200,000 jobs.

    You guys sound just like the teabaggers, freaking out any time there’s decent news.

  61. 61
    Mike Kay (True Grit) says:

    You guys gotta pace yourselves.

    Obama has only been in office 2 years, 1 month.

    You’ve got 6 more years of anger and hate to spew, don’t blow it all so quickly.

  62. 62
    jl says:

    Krugman puts it in perspective in his blog today.

    It’s 1938!

    Then, it will be 1939 forever. Except without the big bands and cool swing dancing get ups and stylent cars. A decline from the Golden Age.

  63. 63
    David Koch says:

    Bankrolling FDL has been one of my best investments.

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