The March jobs report issued by the Department of Labor this morning showed that the economy added only 88,000 jobs last month. Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos remained virtually unchanged, with nearly one out of seven blacks and one out 10 Latinos out of work.
Sadly the tough news in today’s jobs report doesn’t end there. If you or the people you know continue to face difficult economic times, here’s why.
Less jobs were created in March than at any point since last summer. And the rate at which new jobs are being created would need to nearly double to keep up with new entrants into the labor market, due to population growth.
Even the report’s apparently good news turns sour upon closer inspection. Despite the sluggish employment increase, somehow the overall unemployment number fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent. But it dropped only because nearly a half million people gave up looking for work out of frustration. Their exit from the job market makes it appear that more people found work than actually did.
In addition to the scores of wouold-be workers who’ve simply disappeared, there are over four million people who’ve been out of work for more than six months and close to seven million people who want to work full time but are stuck in part-time jobs.
Following the February jobs report, which many in the business press celebrated as a sign of recover, I cautioned that one month’s bump doesn’t equal a trend. Sadly, this morning’s numbers bore that out. In fact, they underscore an economy that is recovering barely, if at all for most Americans.
They also highlight the fact that Washington is focused on the wrong things. Rather than budget battles over which party can reduce spending more, decision makers need to come back to the issue of figuring out how to jumpstart economic growth.
Broad-based economic growth would automatically reduce government spending on everything from unemployment insurance to housing assistance. Less Americans would need them. Moreover, revenue through tax receipts would climb. Until Washington embraces the fact that a hit economy solves all problems, this morning’s lackluster jobs report won’t be the last.