Yesterday’s monthly update on the labor market received a lot of attention, as you’d expect, given that it was the first real month of substantial gain for payrolls since the recession began in December 2007. But for all the cheering, there’s still plenty of sobering realities to consider, including a few observations that caught my attention over the last 24 hours:
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics:
The U.S. economy has “turned the corner,” but it will still take up to five years to regain all the jobs lost since the economic collapse, economic guru Mark Zandi told ABC News today… Despite the boost in jobs, the unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent and Zandi said that rate “isn’t going to fall anytime soon.” He said it will remain high for the next six to nine months.
Dave Altig, senior vice president and research director at the Atlanta Fed:
…the pace of net job creation is still well below the levels required to appreciably improve the unemployment rate or to make a sizable step toward regaining the eight million-plus jobs lost since the beginning of the recession. Updating a calculation referenced in a speech by Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart on Wednesday, at a pace of 162,000 jobs added per month and at the current labor force participation rate, unemployment this time next year would still be just north of 9 percent.
Heidi Shierholz, economist, Economic Policy Institute:
While the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7% in March, the long-term unemployment situation deteriorated. In March, an additional 414,000 unemployed workers crossed the six-months-unemployed threshold, so that now there 6.5 million workers who have been unemployed for longer than six months. The average unemployment spell was 31.2 weeks, the median unemployment spell was 20 weeks, and 44.1% of all unemployed workers had been unemployed for over six months.
Finally, David Beckworth, assistant professor of economics at Texas State University, examines yesterday’s jobs report by industry and offers some interesting graphical analysis here. He observes that “it is encouraging to see the four industries hit hardest during the recession–construction, durable goods manufacturing, professional & business services, and retail trade–had jobs gains in March and all but one of them have had job gains over the past three months as well.” Meantime, he notes that “the financial activities sector continues to lose jobs and has done so over the past three months.”