Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
OK, so I am a few days late — I was busy. Get over it. The December jobs report came out last Friday, and it appears to be an outlier that will be adjusted in coming months as more data becomes available. Steve Benen reported, December job totals disappoint:
When it comes to U.S. job creation, the latter half of 2013 looked quite good, and there was ample reason to believe the year would end on a high note, giving the economy some momentum going into the new year.
That didn’t happen, at least according to initial estimates. The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, far below economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% – its lowest point since October 2008 – but that appears largely to be the result of people dropping out of the workforce.
Indeed, though the drop in the jobless rate may appear encouraging, this is a pretty dreadful jobs report – 74,000 jobs for December is the lowest monthly total in two and a half years.
Note, however, that this is an initial estimate, which will be revised twice more, and may end up looking far less discouraging than it does right now. Indeed, the revisions from October and November showed an additional 38,000 U.S. jobs that had been previously unreported.
That said, December’s awful numbers are a reminder – to policy makers, to the Fed, to the public – that a robust economic recovery has still not arrived. For congressional Republicans to undermine the economy on purpose by cutting off extended unemployment benefits makes it that much more difficult for the job market to return to where it needs to be.
All told, so far in calendar year 2013, the economy added 2.18 million jobs, while the private sector alone created 2.21 million jobs.
Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.
Steve Benen continues, Putting 2013 job totals in context:
In all, the U.S. economy added 2.186 million jobs last year, while the private sector created 2.213 million. Looking back over the last couple of decades, that means when it comes to the overall economy, 2013 was the best year for jobs in the United States since 2005 and the second best year since 1999.
That’s right: last year, the economy created more jobs than seven of the eight years Bush/Cheney was in office. This is not to say 2013 was a banner year for jobs; it’s more the result of the job landscape struggling badly during the Bush/Cheney era.
The above chart shows annual totals going back to 1989, which offers a look at four presidential administrations. Red columns show Republican administrations, while blue columns show Democratic administrations.
But just as important, note that every year has two columns: a darker one to show job growth overall, and a lighter one to show job growth in just the private sector. You might notice that before 2009, the overall economy added more jobs than the private-sector alone, but during the Obama era, the opposite is true. Indeed, just in 2013, U.S. businesses added over 2 million jobs, while the public sector lost 27,000 jobs.
This is, of course, a completely insane approach to economic policy. The one area of job policy that elected officials can help control directly is the public sector, but thanks to Republican austerity measures, we’ve allowed the nation to hemorrhage government jobs over the last several years, slowing the recovery and keeping unemployment higher than it needs to be.
If the government invested in the public sector at the same pace Bush/Cheney did, the unemployment rate would be well below 6% right now.
Postscript: I should add one important caveat. The annual totals for 2013 are based on preliminary estimates from December, and those totals may yet be revised up. The above chart is based on the most complete data currently available, but it is subject to revision.
Remember those higher taxes on the wealthy that the GOP agreed to at the end of 2012? Their dire predictions of economic contraction did not come true. The Stock Markets set record closing highs and 2013 was the best year for jobs in the United States since 2005 and the second best year since 1999.
You will never go broke betting against the economic predictions of Republicans. The economic policies in which they believe are utter nonsense. It's a wonder that anyone takes them seriously.