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Rising Unemployment Rate Should Come as No Surprise « The Washington Independent

Unemployment jumped to 9.7 percent in August, though the 216,000 jobs shed were fewer than expected, the Labor Department reported this morning.

It should come as no surprise.

Economists, for many months, have warned that employment rates are among the last economic indicators to rebound from a recession, and there’s no reason to think that this time around would be any different.

To examine why, take a hypothetical case. If, in the first few months of some recession, unemployment numbers increased from 1,000 to 5,000 to 10,000, you wouldn’t expect that you’d suddenly be creating jobs in the first few months of the recovery. Rather, you’d see the unemployment numbers declining, say, from 10,000 to 5,000 to 1,000, until you’re back into job-creation territory.

Throughout those early months of recovery, though the month-to-month number of jobs lost would be declining, the unemployment rate would continue to rise. That’s what’s happening here. In February, when President Obama signed the economic stimulus bill into law, unemployment rose by 697,000. In August, the figure was 216,000. That’s progress by anyone’s measure.

Anyone, that is, except Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

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