Good News, Ugly News in March Jobs Numbers

Guy Benson
Posted: Apr 06, 2012 11:45 AM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the March jobs report, which contains both real and cosmetic positive news for the economy -- as well as a large helping of disappointing statistics.  The genuinely good news is that 120,000 found work last month, which is an unalloyed positive for that group.  The cosmetic "good" news is that the U-3 unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 to 8.2 percent.  The ugly context?  Here's CBS News:

The March jobs report was a disappointment: Only 120,000 new jobs were created, versus expectations of over 200,000 and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent from 8.3 percent in February, leaving 12.7 Americans still out of work. Given the three previous' months results, where job creation averaged 246,000 per month, this report is a setback to the nation's labor market. The unemployment rate is down from over 10 percent only a couple years ago, BUT it has remained above 8 percent for three years, the longest stretch since monthly records began in 1948. Just before the beginning of the recession, the rate was 5 percent. The reality is that the rate might not budge for a while, because as conditions improve, more frustrated workers re-enter the labor force and restart their job searches.

Zero Hedge distills the situation:

The unemployment rate drops to 8.2% for one simple reason: the number of people not in the labor force is back to all time highs: 87,897,000.

CNBC and AEI's Jim Pethokoukis resurrects the infamous chart White House economists used to sell the 2009 stimulus package, which shows a 2.4 percentage point gap between Obama's projected results and today's reality:

Jim adds, "if the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office—65.7% then vs. 63.8% today down from last month—the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.9%."  And we wonder why Democrats are yelling about caterpillars.  I'll leave you with the Associated Press' dyspeptic summary:

The U.S. job market slowed in March as companies hit the brakes on hiring amid uncertainty about the economy's growth prospects. The unemployment rate dipped, but mostly because more Americans stopped looking for work. The rate dropped last month because fewer people searched for jobs. The official unemployment tally only includes those seeking work.  The job market might face bigger problems. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned that the economy is not growing fast enough to sustain recent hiring gains. Many analysts are already scaling back their forecasts for corporate profits in the January-March quarter because of weaker growth. If employers retreat on hiring, consumers could lose confidence in the economy and slow spending. Slower job growth could also hurt President Barack Obama's re-election hopes.

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