Feb 3, 2012
The recently released jobs report is welcome news. For months, economists and forecasters had predicted weak job numbers to begin 2012, but we saw just the opposite. 243,000 jobs were added to the economy in January. This robust showing lowered the unemployment rate two-tenths of a point to 8.3%, the lowest it has been since February 2009.
The employment surge was led by professional and business services, which added 70,000 positions and manufacturing which added 50,000. Employment in retail also continued to trend up as department stores gained 19,000 positions. Particularly encouraging in the report were the numbers for African Americans and Hispanics, which far outpaced the overall drop. Unemployment rates fell 2.2% for African Americans and 0.5% for Hispanics. These healthy numbers are strong signals that economic recovery is at long last spreading to the jobs market.
Despite the positive gains, economic problems do persist. Historically, unemployment remains high and nearly one third of the jobless have been out of work for over a year. 8.2 million people are working part-time because they weren’t able to find full-time employment. Sales of existing homes have started to rise, but home prices continue to fall. Nonetheless, when unemployment is measured more broadly to include job seekers as well as those in part-time jobs, we see a tenth of a point decrease to 15.1%.
The economy still isn’t where it needs to be, but things are improving under President Obama’s leadership. From proposing and passing recovery legislation that called for investments in education, infrastructure and clean energy to rescuing the U.S. auto industry from demise, it appears clearer than ever that the bold economic efforts of President Obama continue to pay positive economic dividends. We have now sustained 23 consecutive months of job growth. Payrolls are increasing. Factory orders are going up. Layoffs are slowing. There is still much work to be done, but we remain headed towards recovery.
Posted by Casey at 11:41 AM