Jobapalooza Open Thread


Another pretty damn good jobs report for February.

The U.S. generated 242,000 new jobs in February, snapping back after a modest slowdown in hiring in the first month of 2016. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected an increase of 198,000 nonfarm jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%. Employment gains for January and December, meanwhile, were revised up by a combined 30,000, the Labor Department said Friday. The government said 172,000 new jobs were created in January instead of 151,000. December’s gain was raised to 271,000 from 262,000.

Yet despite the big gain in new jobs, average hourly wages fell 3 cents, or 0.1%, to $25.35. Hourly pay rose a mild 2.2% from February 2015 to February 2016. And the amount of time people worked each week dropped 0.2 hours to 34.4 hours, the lowest level in two years. The labor-force participation rate moved up to 62.9%, the highest level since May, as more than half a million people joined the labor force.

Wage growth is still an issue, but at least labor force participation is stating to turn around.  People are coming back to the work force.  Big numbers for February and upward revisions for December and January don’t hurt either.

Most importantly the measure of underemployment dropped to a new cycle low of 9.7%, which is a big deal.  We’re definitely on the way back up, looks like.

40 replies
  1. 1

    One hopes. Health issues forced me to resign my teaching position in January, and I’ve been actively looking for work outside of education since last June. I thought my resume made me look pretty versatile, but I’ve gotten one phone interview and that’s it in all that time. Saw a listing the other day that wanted someone with a Ph.D and was offering $32,000.


  2. 2
    Baud says:

    I apologize for beating a dead horse, but it is election season.

    We would be in a golden age if the Dems has controlled Congress for all of Obama’s teunure.

  3. 3
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    It’s interesting that low unemployment hasn’t caused upward pressure in wages. There may be more slack in the labor force than the unemployment rate indicates.

  4. 4
    Joel says:

    @Luther M. Siler: what’s your PH.D. in?

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    Last I heard, wages were starting to creep up, but I think you are right about the slack.

  6. 6
    Xantar says:

    Yes, but what’s the REAL unemployment rate?

    (Because apparently someone always has to say that in one of these threads)

  7. 7
    Pee Cee says:

    So … time for the Fed to raise rates again? Because OMG hyperinflation economy might overheat whaargarbl?

  8. 8
  9. 9
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Yes, slightly positive very recently. It’s a good trend but with little effect to date.
    Americans in the middle class could use some inflation to help reduce the effect on all the household debt they piled up during the recession. But the Fed is prioritizing raising interest rates over getting inflation to their own 2% target. Obviously they want to have room to reduce rates to counteract the next recession. But that burdens American workers with flat wages and big debts.

  10. 10
    Cermet says:

    And Costco raised their already high (by most standards) minimum wage by $1.50 (that is $11.50 to $13.00.) That indicates that getting and keeping good workers is getting harder which means real employment is increasing! President Obama is the best! Now for Hillary to be Obama’s clone and keep the growth going!
    And anyone here who is a Sam’s club member (just another walmart slave store, or the parasitic of the amerikan working class) member who doesn’t change is doing everyone a disservice (assuming their is a Costco within driving distance, of course.)

  11. 11 says:

    They also said there was a calendar issue that showed the hourly wage deceease. I assume that has to do with the leap year issue.

  12. 12

    @Joel: I don’t have one, but I do have two MAs. I happen to live somewhere with a lot of nearby colleges and universities so I’ve been focusing on administrative jobs, student counseling, things like that, where potentially my K-12 experience could be seen as useful. I just happened to run across that job listing while searching; the notion that you’d REQUIRE a Ph.D for a $32K job blew my mind.

  13. 13
    Chyron HR says:

    Unemployment rate? More like Amazon Prime membership rate, amirite?

  14. 14
    WarMunchkin says:

    @Pee Cee: Yup. The Fed will definitely raise rates as a response to this. I have zero doubts there.

  15. 15
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Luther M. Siler: Yup. Reminds me when I was laid off back in 2012, and it took me five months to land a new job, and I have two master’s degrees, too.

    Hang in there if you can. Have you thought about consulting?

  16. 16
    Punchy says:

    I just realized that, with regards to the GOP nomination, we haven’t heard from Hank Williams Jr.

  17. 17
    Cacti says:

    I’m going to take a shot in the dark and guess that Bernie Sanders disapproves of this news.

  18. 18

    @C.V. Danes: I’ve added a side gig editing manuscripts, but it hasn’t generated much money just yet. As far as consulting, in a general sense, sure, but there’s a ton that I don’t know about how I’d go about setting up a consulting business, finding clients, etc. and I’m already hip-deep in small business stuff in my side gig as an author anyway. So yeah, I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t moved on it yet because I don’t have the brainspace to build two unsuccessful businesses at the same time. :-)

  19. 19
    japa21 says:

    @Cermet: Planning on retiring from my FT job in 2 months, taking a little time off and then do a PT job, 16-20 hours per week. I am seriously looking at Costco.

  20. 20
    MomSense says:

    @Luther M. Siler:

    The other day I said that I usually feel like throwing sharp objects at my computer when I read help wanted ads. The one you mention is a perfect example.

    At least $32,000 is more than a PHD would earn as an adjunct so there’s that.

  21. 21

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    It’s interesting that low unemployment hasn’t caused upward pressure in wages. There may be more slack in the labor force than the unemployment rate indicates.

    I think this is why the relatively high U6 is important. When U6 was 9.7 under Clinton and Bush II, U3 was up around 5.6, i.e. nearly a point higher than it is right now. That says there’s more slack in the labor market than the headline number would make you think.

  22. 22
    Joel says:

    @Luther M. Siler: that’s basically what a postdoctoral fellowship is — glorified apprenticeship.

  23. 23

    @Joel: This was an actual job, though! Not a fellowship!

    My other favorite thing is asking for degrees in fields that don’t exist. St. Mary’s posted a job the other day that asked for a Ph.D in “spirituality.” One of my MAs is in Biblical studies. I know *lots* of theology and religion professors. There is no such thing as a Ph.D in “spirituality.” You’d think a college would know that.

  24. 24
    guachi says:

    This jobs report puts Obama’s second term back above Reagan’s second term for monthly job gains.

    Out of the last 14 elections, Democrats have won seven and Republicans have won seven. Job growth while Democrats have been in office is 93% higher than Republican average monthly job gains.

    Six of seven Democratic terms have had above average growth but only one of seven Republican terms, Reagan’s last. If Obama’s pace holds it would mean Democrats have the top three spots for job growth with Clinton’s two terms being first and second.

    Even Obama’s bad first term wasn’t the worst of the 14 for job growth. Or second worst. That ignominy goes to Bush’s two terms.

    tl;dr – Democrats = good for jobs.

  25. 25
    p.a. says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: @Baud: Don’t get too optimistic about wage increases, the Fed is waiting in the wings.

    i’m a dime late, dollar short comment again.

  26. 26
    piratedan says:

    @Luther M. Siler: Luther, I assume that you’ve already done the Linked In and Career Builder resume filing stuff. the other thing if you’re unsure on building your own LLC and hanging out a shingle is to find some reputable temp agencies and put your resume on file with them. Let them do some of the work of matching you up with a position. Many times those end up as a contract to hire gig.

  27. 27
    dww44 says:

    @Baud: Instead of being in a golden age, we are faced with Obama being responsible for losing more seats in Congress and at the state level of any Democratic President in history, at least according to the non-biased experts at NPR’s All Things Considered.

    I know I keep pushing this piece I heard yesterday, but I really think there should be some legitimate push back to NPR and the folks at ATC. Not that their facts are wrong, but that their interpretation of those facts skews in support of the GOP in the November elections. Subtle maybe but a pro Republican segment anyways. It was broadcast immediately following the 5 p.m. headlines.

  28. 28
    satby says:

    Well, I hope this is good news, but I still haven’t found even a crap job. Higher hopes for Florida though. I’d leave next month if I didn’t have the girls.

  29. 29
    Brachiator says:

    Wage growth is still an issue

    Wage growth is still THE issue.

    The U.S. generated 242,000 new jobs in February, snapping back after a modest slowdown in hiring in the first month of 2016…. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%.

    This is not good.

    The Obama Administration has done much to stabilize and to repair the damage done by the Bush Administration. But the overall economy is still weak.

  30. 30
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Unemployment can probably fall quite a bit below 4% before there’s anything like hitting the NAIRU. WSJ has actual evidence!

    How tight does the labor market have to get before wages really start heating up?

    In Lincoln, Neb., average hourly earnings were stagnant until the unemployment rate crossed below 2.5% in the fall of 2014. Then, wages took off. Since last October, they gained as much as 10.9% from a year earlier. The jobless rate in October: 2.3%.

    (One of my recent hobby-horses is reposting that pointer whenever the unemployment-inflation question comes up. Sorry if I’m beating it to death here.)


  31. 31
    Baud says:

    @dww44: The losses are a fact of life. I personally don’t blame Obama for it, but you also can’t say he was successful there. Maybe no one in his position really could have been.

  32. 32
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    Really hope that the assholes in Europe or China don’t screw it all up. Though it would be kind of nice to not be directly responsible for the global economic collapse for once.

  33. 33
    MomSense says:


    Sending good employment vibes to you.

  34. 34
    Linnaeus says:

    Wage growth is still an issue

    Yes, and it’s been an issue for at least 40 years.

  35. 35
    D58826 says:

    @guachi: At last we have something that the GOP will not blame on Obama.

  36. 36
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Luther M. Siler: I was thinking along the lines of one of the larger consulting firms: Accenture, CGI, NTT Data, etc. You work for them as a salaried employee and they place you with a client. Based on your background, it wouldn’t hurt to toss them your resume and see if something sticks :-)

  37. 37
    Paul in KY says:

    @Luther M. Siler: I’d apply for that one anyway.

  38. 38
    RaflW says:

    Obama’s approval rating is also at 51% now. He will have some impact when he can get out and stump for the nominee.

  39. 39
    dww44 says:

    @Baud: Yes, the losses are a fact, but the piece blames Obama for it and do es not make any mention of the fact that the real reason has to do with his skin color. Otherwise there is absolutely no valid explanation for why the “take my country back” meme got such an early start. A large segment of white voters simply were and are in denial about their objections being rooted in the President’s skin color. Plus there is the fact that when a political party tries to push the envelope of change in a more open direction there’s a predictable backlash.

  40. 40
    Joel says:

    @Luther M. Siler: That sounds like a bogus listing — basically an open posting to satisfy anti-discrimination requirements while hiring someone they already have lined up.

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