Preliminary Good Job News
Are things looking up? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports
that 308k jobs were created last month. That's a nice number, and even above what the Bush administration has promised (306k per month). Across the board the figures were positive (well, 'cept for manufacturing which was unchanged). In short, the preliminary numbers are good.
I'm pleased by the trend, but I still have concerns about a few things1
- [T]he employment-population ratio--the proportion of the population age 16 and over with jobs--was
essentially unchanged at 62.1 percent. - I guess it's "essentially unchanged", but look at the trend: 62.4 in January, 62.2 in February, and sliding a bit more to 62.1 last month. That's the exact same ratio as back in September, 2003, so we're not making any real progress (Table A-1).
- [T]he number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons increased to 4.7 million, about the same level as in January. These individuals indicated that they would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs. - This figure was 4.714M in January, 4.437M in February, and has jumped back up to 4.733M last month. That's a bit better than September, 2003, but the recent trend isn't all that good (Table A-5).
- The number of persons who were marginally attached to the labor force totaled 1.6 million in March, about the same as a year earlier...These individuals wanted and were available to work and had looked for a job...They were not counted as unemployed, however, because they did not actively search for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. - This is trending downward a smidge, from 1.670M in January, up to 1.691M in February and now down to 1.643M last month. The problem is that the figures are significantly higher than any month since September, 2003, and almost as bad as August (Table A-13).
And while the official unemployment rate remains "essentially unchanged" at 5.7% (actually up a tick from Feb, but what's the difference?), if you look at unemployment, marginal attachment and forced part time work, the rate has bounced back up from 9.6% in February to 9.9%. That's the same as January (Table A-12).
Apologies to the winger trolls who will chastise me for insufficient enthusiasm, or accuse me of looking for bad economic news to improve Kerry's chances in November, but I can't see one month of barely hitting BushCo's predicted job creation level being a lot to crow about when other significant numbers do not show positive trends. I wish Bush's tax cuts would work, but they don't appear to be having the promised impact. And I await the revised numbers next month to see if this good news endures.
1 - Historical comparisons from archived A table