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Monthly employment report shows slow job growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday its monthly jobs report showing that the unemployment rate declined from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent — a decrease that is less remarkable upon further examination. The economy added 103,000 jobs in the last month — with the private sector adding 113,000 jobs and the public sector shrinking by 10,000.

But it’s simply not good enough news given the magnitude of the unemployment crisis. About 8.4 million jobs were lost during the recession. The economy needs to gain 100,000 to 125,000 jobs a month to keep up with population growth. The Wall Street Journal notes that this month’s job growth just isn’t fast enough: “The U.S. unemployment rate is unlikely to move much lower if job gains continue only at December’s pace. Even employment gains close to October’s pace (210,000 jobs) would take us into the next decade before seeing the unemployment rate back near 5%.”

The most troubling news is that the number of discouraged workers increased significantly from last year. The amount of discouraged workers — those unemployed but not looking for work within the past month — rose by 389,000 to 1.3 million from December 2009. (Data is only collected on a yearly basis.) That number is not included in the unemployment rate, since those persons are not in the labor force.

Among the unemployed, 44.3 percent of them have been out of work for 27 weeks or more and are counted as long-term unemployed. Despite 2010 being tied for the highest annual unemployment rate since 1948, employers are still wary of hiring people who have not been out of work for long.

Some job growth is better than none, or job losses. But it’s far from a recovery.

Update: The President spoke on the jobs report this morning in Maryland. He called the jobs report “positive,” but said it only “underscores the importance of not letting up on our efforts.”

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