January Unemployment: 9.7 percent
Inside the new employment numbers.
12:56 PM, Feb 5, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 9.7 percent. But, like the fourth quarter growth number of 5.7 percent, it is hard to get excited about this number. Obviously it's good to have rising growth and falling unemployment. Yet the positive macro-economic numbers do not mesh with the everyday realities of many workers (and voters), who see a stagnant economy and a comatose job market. For instance, the percentage of people who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more rose to 41.2 percent in January. A record high.
Ed Morrissey notes that temporary help services (52,000), the retail trade sector (42,000), and the federal government (33,000) added the most jobs in January. David Leonhardt knows hope, but also cautions that "the job market is still a long ways from being so healthy." Paul Krugman just seems puzzled. And Keith Hennessey makes a salient point in an unrelated post:
Caveat to all economic commentary: It's important to recognize the limits of prediction. No one expected the unemployment rate to decline last month--but that did not stop it from doing so!
As long as unemployment is less than its peak (so far) of 10.2 percent by November 2012, the White House will be able to unfurl the "Morning in America" banners kept in cold storage at the National Archive.