October 5, 2012

BLS Employment Numbers in Perspective

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The excitement about three-tenths of one percent drop in the unemployment rate expressed by several media outlets on the morning of October 5, 2012 tells you a lot about how low our expectations are about the economy have become. Have we gotten so used to an 8 percent unemployment rate? And are we so pessimistic about the outlook of our economy that a rate slightly below that number is interpreted as great news?

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that there are still 61,000 fewer people employed today than in January 2009 (the data is from BLS, Table B-1 seasonally adjusted “Employees on nonfarm payrolls,” accessed October 5, 2012). This is disconcerting to say the least and tells you how slow this recovery has been.