The latest employment report confirms what we've know for a while: The economic recovery is very weak and far too many people main out of work. From Calculated Risk, whose graph appears above:
For the current employment recession, employment peaked in December 2007, and this recession is by far the worst recession since WWII in percentage terms, and 2nd worst in terms of the unemployment rate (only the early '80s recession with a peak of 10.8 percent was worse).
This is a very disappointing employment report and far below expectations.
And from Dean Baker, at the Center for Economic Policy Research:
There is very little basis for optimism about the near-term future in this report. There is no sector showing strong job growth at this point. Furthermore, average weekly hours actually fell slightly for non-supervisory workers, suggesting that the demand for labor might actually be weakening. With house prices again dropping rapidly and additional cutbacks coming at all levels of government, there are no obvious engines of growth in this economy.
My number-crunching colleague Alex Hart e-mails with more gloomy analysis:
A rising unemployment rate is not necessarily incompatible with an economic recovery. As the economy recovers, formerly discouraged workers will re-enter the work force. Since unemployment is a measure of the percentage of people seeking work, the re-entry of discouraged workers will inflate the number of people who are unemployed and temporarily raise the rate.
Unfortunately, that effect is pretty clearly not the culprit for this month’s rise in unemployment. We need to add around 125,000 jobs a month to keep up with population growth, so at 39,000 new jobs in November, we’re not even treading water. And the labor-force participation rate, the fraction of the employable population either working or seeking work, remained at steady at 64.5 percent (a number lower than it was a year ago, in fact). So it appears the discouraged workers are still sitting on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the Democrats are trying to extend unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the middle class. The Republicans object, insisting that the tax package include cuts that would benefit only the very wealthiest Americans.
And while the Republicans don't care a whit whether those tax cuts have offsetting revenue or spending cuts, they refuse to extend the jobless benefits--which are relatively tiny, temporary, and far more helpful to the economy--unless the Democrats come up with a way to pay for them.
I'm not sure who is more pathetic: The Republicans for making this argument or the Democrats for letting them get away with it.