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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Last Some Job

The gloom is dissipating. It might be because Congress is in recess, and therefore unable to add any billions to the burgeoning government debt, at least for a few weeks. It might be because spring is sprung. And it might be because most people are focusing less on the economy and more on the NCAA basketball finals, and on the opening of the baseball season Sunday night than on the economic news.
More likely, it is because the jobs market is improving. Not much, but at least the declines seem to be over: 162,000 new jobs were created in March. Back out the 48,000 hired temporarily to help with the census, and you still have positive growth. Employment in the hard-hit construction industry, which lost 864,000 jobs in the past twelve months, held steady, while jobs were added in manufacturing, mining, health care, and temporary services. And for technical reasons these official figures probably understate job growth.
But no economic silver lining comes without a cloud these days: the number of people out of work for 27 weeks or more increased by 414,000 to 6.5 million, the unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.7%, and the total unemployed, involuntarily underemployed, and too discouraged to look for work now constitute 16.9% of the work force. That’s a lot of people in distress.

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