Things aren’t looking great for the American economy, as today’s release of December’s jobs report by the Labor Department highlighted.
“There was virtually no good news for the jobs market in this report,” The Daily Beast’s Daniel Gross wrote in reaction to the nubers. “Thanks to this contradictory, disappointing report, the Federal Reserve, like the jobs market itself, may be facing a bout of temporary paralysis.”
“It's almost silly that anyone had high hopes for December in the first place, the Wire’s Abby Ohlheiser wrote echoing Gross' grim tone, “given one unfortunate trend that has been developing for some time.”
That trend, according to Ohlheiser, is the rapid pace at which people are leaving the workforce altogether. “Put more simply, the official unemployment rate only counts people who want jobs and can't get them,” Olheiser continued. “That means Americans who leave the labor force can cause unemployment to drop, even if the economy isn't adding very many jobs.”
So what’s to blame for such a bad report? According to Heil Irwin at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, the problem lies primarily in the education and health care sector.
“That industry has been a stalwart of job creation through the recovery," Irwin wrote, citing data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “But in December, it added no net jobs.”
Not everyone buys into the doom and gloom reactions to the jobs report, however.
John Cassidy of the New Yorker, for one, thinks that though the report may be dismal, it has little long-term significance. “The employment release is the most timely and comprehensive update we get about how the economy is doing, and it should always be taken seriously,” he wrote in his article “Why the jobs report is probably a throwaway.”5 comments on this story
“But a single set of figures should be treated with caution," he added, "especially when they appear to contradict other recent reports, as this one does.”
Cassidy then goes on to explain that a private research company, ADP, reported different (and better) job numbers than the Labor Department, leaving one to wonder which report is more accurate.
“Obviously, both reports can’t be correct,” Cassidy concludes. “The Labor Department tries to account for weather and other seasonal variations that distort the underlying patterns, but it doesn’t always get it right.”