Saturday, January 5

“This is unambiguously negative.”

Whoopee, Happy new year. 2008 is looking stellar so far.

The title quote is from the NY Times - it's Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, reacting to the DOL jobs report issued yesterday which shows unemployment at 5% for the first time since 2005 and a mere 18,000 jobs created. 18,000. When I saw it I hoped a decimal place was missing.

But, fear not, you massess of laid-off manufacturing workers! The President says your sacrifice was not in vain! White House spokesman Tony Fratto (Seriously? What happened to Snow? He was two spokesmen ago? And the other one was a chick? Man, I can't keep track anymore...) Anyways, White House Spokesman-of-the-day Fratto said the report was "good news" (no joke) because the country was still creating jobs. From Forbes:

'Anytime that you have more Americans working than you previously had, that is good news and certainly good news for those who have jobs,' Fratto told reporters at the White House....

Ok, I'm not trying to bring down the lucky 18,000 government and food service employees that got paid last month, but when construction and manufacturing industries shed like 80,000 positions (again, no joke), it doesn't take an economist to figure out what's wrong with touting such meager job growth as a success. From the NYT article:
For the third consecutive month, wages grew slower than the pace of inflation, cutting into the real income of many workers. Among rank-and-file workers, who make up more than four-fifths of the labor force, average hourly earnings rose 3.7 percent last year, below the 4.3 percent rise in 2006.

Yeah, "good news" may be a stretch.

Thankfully, we're not running for office, and the job market is merely a contributory factor to employment law, so we can just acknowledge and move on. This is just a friendly heads-up - it's getting pretty recession-y out there, so watch where you step.