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Posted at 8:34 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

103,000 new jobs in December; unemployment down to 9.4 percent

By Ezra Klein

jobs1210.jpg

December's jobs report has some good news, but not nearly enough of it. The economy added 103,000 jobs -- a gain that was driven by the private sector adding 113,000 jobs but dragged down by the public sector shedding 10,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent, partly because participation in the economy (i.e., the number of people looking for jobs) declined and partly because the jobs numbers for the past two months were revised upward by 70,000 jobs.

To put this in context, remember that the economy needs to be adding more than 100,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. If we begin adding more than 200,000 jobs a month, it'll take about five years to return to full employment. Bottom line? This jobs report is better than a bad jobs report. But it's not yet a good one.

Update: The fine folks at the Hamilton Project sent me this (frankly terrifying) graph showing how long it would take to reverse our job losses at various rates of payroll growth. Note that every line on here is showing vastly more job growth than we've seen for any sustained period thus far in the downturn:

image001.gif

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 8:34 AM ET
Categories:  Economy  
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Comments

Again, we can reach full employment in only a year or two by adding just 100,000 jobs/month if the labor force participation rate adjusts sufficiently.

And the fact that the first baby boomers qualified for Medicare this past week should constitute a significant downward pressure on the participation rate moving forward.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 7, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the retiring boomers: Is anyone calculating the effect of adding delayed compensation to the economy? Personal example: Ijust retired and will be living on my pension plus pulling money from my 403b account. I will be spending that money creating economic activity. But I was replaced in my job from a new worker moving here from out of state. He'll continue to spend a comparable amount of money to what I did essentially doubling the amount entering the local economy.
What will be the effect of starting to liquidate all that saved up income?

Posted by: arthackett | January 7, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

After you stated the constitution was written 100 yrs ago on that idiot Norah oDonnell's show, I lost all respect bro...where'd you go to school?

Posted by: mjandrews8 | January 7, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

What seems to be missing from everyone's analysis is the impact of the economy on illegal alians in the labor force. To the extent that the Arizona law and poor economy are encoraging their return to their homelands, the labor force is getting smaller or growing less fast. That helps explain why the unemployment rate it going down even though job creation is modest.

Posted by: branchb | January 7, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

What seems to be missing from everyone's analysis is the impact of the economy on illegal alians in the labor force. To the extent that the Arizona law and poor economy are encoraging their return to their homelands, the labor force is getting smaller or growing less fast. That helps explain why the unemployment rate it going down even though job creation is modest.

Posted by: branchb | January 7, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

"If we begin adding more than 200,000 jobs a month, it'll take about five years to return to full employment."

What unemployment rate do you consider to be "full employment"? There's an argument to be made that the two bubbles of the late 90's tech stock and the housing bubble pushed unemployment below the level of "full employment" and we aren't going to see those levels of employment again absent a new bubble.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

mjandrews8, if you've lost all respect for Ezra, why are you even posting here? If you don't find Ezra's posts interesting or insightful, maybe you'd be happier reading another blog?

And are you questioning whether the Constitution was written over 100 years ago? I mean, it's an interesting theory, I guess, but that's a pretty massive conspiracy you're suggesting!

Posted by: MosBen | January 7, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

mjandrews8, if you've lost all respect for Ezra, why are you even posting here? If you don't find Ezra's posts interesting or insightful, maybe you'd be happier reading another blog?

And are you questioning whether the Constitution was written over 100 years ago? I mean, it's an interesting theory, I guess, but that's a pretty massive conspiracy you're suggesting!

Posted by: MosBen | January 7, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

The Dow Jones is now at 11,700 from a bottom of 6,500, and unemployment has dipped to 9.4% from 9.8%. This holiday season sales were very strong, reversing the trend in recent years.

I'm not saying it's all over or that our problems are behind us, but guys and gals, chill out! These things go in cycles and for now that cycle is trending up. By the time we get to the 2012 election the economy will no longer be our top issue.

Posted by: mandelm2001 | January 7, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Bernanke said at this morning's hearing that the FOMC consensus was 8% by the end of 2012.

He said they arrived at that number by reading my posts to you about it over the last month or so! (ok well the second sentence might ba an exaggeration, but the first one is true!)

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"The Dow Jones is now at 11,700 from a bottom of 6,500, and unemployment has dipped to 9.4% from 9.8%. This holiday season sales were very strong, reversing the trend in recent years."
we should hang that in our windows.

these are the accomplishments of this administration!
not a trend,
this was a Massive Accomplishment!

l

best mantra:

health care reform is here to stay.
the tea party will be humbled.
the economy is getting better.
president obama will be re-elected!

Posted by: jkaren | January 7, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The papers have not done much of a job to highlight it but the biggest reason the unemployment rated dropped so much was because more people stopped looking for work. It would have dropped about .1% otherwise. There are 4 million Americans who have been unemployed for over a year. Is this anything to celebrate?

Posted by: mattislavin | January 7, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Any chance most of those December jobs were of the temporary holiday type?

Nah - they were all probably really good, long-term positions that will lead to even better, long-term careers.

The fact that new unemployment insurance claims were up 57K is probably irrelevant, too.

And not counting the 4 million jobless '99ers,' or the 1.5 million unemployed 'independent contractors' always helps with the happy talk as well...

Posted by: frank1569 | January 7, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Mandelm wrote:

"This holiday season sales were very strong, reversing the trend in recent years."

Actually, they were weaker than expected, except among high-end retailers, but what's a little accuracy among friends!

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Remember the Bush years, when people giving up participation in the labor force was not called "good news"?

Posted by: tomtildrum | January 7, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

@frank:

new unemployment claims weren't up 57K,

the 99ers are counted,

the numbers are 'seasonally adjusted', and therefore unaffected by temporary seasonal hiring,

and by the household survey, while 'employment' grew by 300,000 jobs, part-time employment fell by almost 200,000. which is to say that the household survey suggests a 500,000 increase in the number full-time jobs.

but other than that, good points.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 7, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Good Comments!

I'd like to second some ideas.

First. I don't think 0% unemployment is the goal. We just need to get to below 5%.

Second. I'd like to hear more about how immigration is affecting the unemployment rate. Are policies that discourage immigration contributing to our shrinking our labor force? The seasonally adjusted labor force shrunk by 260k last month...largest reduction since August. What gives? IF things are getting better why aren't more people looking for work...or is this a consequence of 99ers being kicked off the rolls and therefore not being counted in the labor force

Posted by: Mazzi455 | January 7, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's another look, video showing jobs lost / gained since 2001:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/01/07/132709249/american-jobs-gained-and-lost

So what does it take to stimulate job growth at a faster pace? And how could you ever achieve sufficient political agreement to make that happen?

Pretty clear housing construction can never (should never) return to its peak and we can hope the same for the finance sector.

Where will the 250 - 400k per month jobs come from?

Posted by: Clear_Eye | January 7, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure brighter minds than mine are working on the problem of unemployment, although, I am more than a little concerned about the House GOP's giant gavel, lack of swearing-in, and repeal tactics. But putting that aside, I am an unemployed 59 year old woman on 'the dole' since April 2010. My thoughts are this; change the retirement age to 60 early and 63 norm (this will increase the number of people collecting social security) but it will open the door to employment for young people, college graduates, parents raising families. The younger employed spend more and will hire at lower wages because longevity in the workplace increases wages through raises and merit.

This may sound strange, but putting a younger work force in place will also help to make new in-roads in fields of technology, infra-structure, environmental sustainable goals. New minds for the new era of American jobs.

Just a thought I had as I submit resumes for jobs paying less than half of previous earnings and realize how tired and useless I feel being unemployed and on the verge of foreclosure.

The answers aren't easy and won't come in time for many of us, it's a real shame that Republicans Boehner, McConnell and crew don't understand the plight of being out of work!

Posted by: kkalmes | January 7, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

eggnofool:

You put much more faith in seasonally adjusted numbers than I do. A better measure of unemployment might be the U6 number, currently at about 16%.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The US admits an average of 100,000 working-age immigrants EACH MONTH.

This does not include illegal immigration.

SOURCE: http://cis.org/highest-decade

Foreign-born workers have a lower unemployment rate than native-born workers.

We need a moratorium on ALL immigration -- legal and illegal -- until the unemployment rate drops back below 6%.

Posted by: pmendez | January 7, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"and by the household survey, while 'employment' grew by 300,000 jobs, part-time employment fell by almost 200,000. which is to say that the household survey suggests a 500,000 increase in the number full-time jobs."

Eggnogfool,

Keep in mind here that full time employment fell by 1.5 million jobs from May to November.

Posted by: justin84 | January 7, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Using the DOW as an economic indicator is pure folly.

If all American companies announced that through robotics they could fire 50% of their labor and double productivity, the DOW would hover around 20,000 in six months.

However, with unemployment at 50%, I'm not sure one could call it a strong economy.

+++

Posted by: Hawaiian_Gecko | January 7, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see some smart person like Ezra Klein analyze the labor force from a supply and demand perspective. It seems there is a shortage of people in the health care field if we assume everyone will eventually get health care under the reform act. There are also a couple of million unfilled jobs out there according to some reports. What kinds of skills are needed and how does that match up with those who are unemployed? It would be educational to better understand how many of the unemployed are likely to stay that way because they lack skills that are needed in the economy. Also, to what extent do we have an imbalance between where the unemployed live and where the job opportunities exist? We need to do something to align skills and geographic distribution of the unemployed with the demand for labor. It is not enough to just recite numbers, we need a strategy. Republicans seem to believe that eliminating taxes and regulations is the solution to all problems. I don't think the data supports that belief. It seems we are able to obtain all the consumer goods that we want at the current employment levels so unless we can drive labor to other areas, such as infrastructure, we are not likely to see high employment levels. Too bad our political leaders can't be more fact vs. ideology driven.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | January 7, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Let's be crystal.

...

You need 500,000 US jobs each month - for the next FIVE YEARS - to replace the jobs lost due to the Socialist plans of Comrade Bush.

That meant, since they were elected, the Republics should have provided 1,000,000 US jobs.

Not H1-B visa jobs for foreigners.

Not illegal workers hired by GOP funders.

US jobs for American citizens.

...

On that scale, 101,000 or even 113,000 US jobs is what we like to call EPIC FAIL.

We should have had 500,000 US jobs created in November.

We should have had 500,000 US jobs created in December.

Instead you bankrupt us by shipping our troops overseas to fight wars that only serve to get your Red Chinese masters cheap resources from Iraq and Afghanistan, at the cost of US middle class jobs, taxes, and BLOOD.

Including my son's uncle who is in Afghanistan right now.

...

End the two wars of Republican foreign adventure and CREATE US JOBS OR YOU ARE FIRED, REPUBLICS!

Posted by: WillSeattle | January 7, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

eggnofool:

Your numbers are completely off.

ADP numbers rose by 297,000 but that's not the household survey number. That was the number produced today which only showed 113,000 private sector jobs gained. Also the fall in part-time employment does not correlate to an equal number of full-time jobs. Your numbers are off by the hundred of thousands.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

LISTENING TO A ZIONIST NAMED 'KLEIN' ON JOB CREATION IS AS USELESS AS THE MANDATE ALLOWING THE FED TO CONTROL JOB CREATION. ALLOW ME TO ILLUSTRATE BY QUOTE:
"THE GENTLE APPROPRIATION OF NATIVE PEOPLES FROM THEIR LANDS SURREPTICIOUSLY THROUGH DENIAL OF WORK." - THEODOR HERTZL,-(FATHER OF MODERN ZIONISM). THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK HAS BEEN GIVEN THE MANDATE OF JOB CREATION. THE FED IS OWNED BY THE GREATEST ZIONISTS ON EARTH THE VERY FAMILY THAT BROKERED THE LANDS OF PALESTINE FOR ISRAEL VIA THE BALFOUR DECLARATION. SO, WHICH IS IT-EITHER THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE AT THEIR JOB, OR THEY ARE DOING THIS ON PURPOSE AND BY DESIGN. WHICH DO YOU REALLY THINK IT IS??? READ THE QUOTE OF THE HUNGARIAN RAT HERTZL AGAIN AND ASK YOURSELF ARE WE WITNESSING HERTZELLIAN DOCTRINE BEING PURPORTED ON THE AMERICAN WASP PEOPLE BY THE ZIONISTS AT THE FED OR WHAT? OBVIOUSLY SO. BERNANKE BRAGS HE'S AN EXPERT ON THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND THEN HE'S THE ONE OVERSEEING OUR CURENCY FOR THAT FOREIGN BANK AT THE VERY TIME WE ENTER INTO AN ECONOMIC PHASE CLOSEST TO THE GREAT DEPRESSION WE'VE EVER SEEN, AND ALL THIS BROUGHT ABOUT BY GREENSPAN, RUBIN AND SUMMERS-ALL ZIONIST JEWS ARGUING FOR A DECADE FOR THE RESCINDING OF THE REGULATIONS ON THE DERIVATIVES MARKET, FOLLOWED BY LEHMAN BROS, GOLDMAN SACHS, MAURICE GREENBURG AT AIG AND SEVERAL OTHER JEWISH OWNED COMPANIES INVESTING TO THE HILT IN THE DE-REGULATED DERIVATIVES MARKET AND THEN GOING BELLY UP ON PURPOSE, AND THEN HAVING THE AUDACITY TO DEMAND OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE A RANSOM TO 'KEEP IT FROM BEING WORSE.' THEY SET THE WHOLE THING UP AND EXECUTED IT FROM THE DRAWING BOARD TO THE BREAD LINE. NO, IT'S TIME FOR A DIASPORA-AMERICAN STYLE TO END THE FED AND THIS INSIDIOUS CONTROL OVER US BY ZIONIST JEWS. NEXT!

Posted by: scylla62 | January 7, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we can add another huge unfunded entitlement program like obamacare to stimulate the economy, though we are running out of candidates for government hand-outs? Or maybe we can shed the whole entitlement mentality promoted by WAPO and its progressive friends, and actually take responsibility for our own situations.

Posted by: marknelso | January 7, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

mjandrews8, if you've lost all respect for Ezra, why are you even posting here? If you don't find Ezra's posts interesting or insightful, maybe you'd be happier reading another blog?

And are you questioning whether the Constitution was written over 100 years ago? I mean, it's an interesting theory, I guess, but that's a pretty massive conspiracy you're suggesting!

Posted by: MosBen

Why did you feel the need to post this twice? mjandrews8 stated a comment Ezra Klein made on MSNBC where he felt the GOP was the Constitution out loud b/c it was all a ploy. He then went on to educated all 20 viewers that it was written over 100 years ago. So a document over 200 years old lost a century of existence. He made a mistake in his timeline but could you imagine if his name was O'Reilly or Hannity? This would have been front page news.

Posted by: brett3sigep | January 7, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The unemloyment was gone down 3/10ths of 1 percent last month. Hail to Obama! Hope...Change...Yes, we can!

Posted by: Dodgers1 | January 7, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@54465446:

From BLS jobs report summary Table A:

"Employed
137,960 139,084 138,909 139,206 297"

In a rare coincidence, 297,000 is both the household survey and ADP job number. The establishment jobs change # is the one that is normally (for good reason; household data has month-to-month noise) reported. But when the specific question is "to what extent did we shift toward a part-time work economy last month?", the establishment data isn't helpful, where the household survey gives a number for change in employed and for # employed part time, which supports solving for full-time employment.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 7, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

@scylla62 -

My theory is that you're a freaking conspiracy theorist whack job. Oh yea, it was the writing in all caps that gave you away. :)

Posted by: alexandria6351 | January 7, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

eggnofool:

No your number is completely wrong. Go look around the web, You are the only person who is saying this. The correct number is plus 113,000 non farm payrolls.:

"The economy added 103,000 jobs in December. Unemployment fell to 9.4 percent, largely because 260,000 adults dropped out of the labor force and are no longer counted as unemployed by the government."

The number is different than 113,000 because government lost 10,000 jobs in this report, hard as that may be to believe.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Better than Ezra also said that the text of the Constitution is confusing. I guess he should enroll in a remedial reading course. Too bad his parents didn't buy him Hooked on Phonics when he was a kid.

At least this episode was informative for me on one thing. I didn't know that Nora O'Donnell had a TV show.

Posted by: alexandria6351 | January 7, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Klein is a liberal nitwit, nothing else. Or, he'd be on a legitimate news web site.

Posted by: LarryG62 | January 7, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I do not see how this could possibly be "scary" since no prediction, especially a multiyear prediction, will ever be true if it is a straight line. Life is never straight.

The only thing worse would be to make a prediction based on cleaned-up, multiyear data, such as global warming data. None of the scientists can produce the raw, unadulterated data. Data that lists the weather sites that were moved in the middle of the collection, or that were removed because they were outliers (more than xxx% from the norm). Hence, any prediction will be suspect and is bad science.

Posted by: MaryPublic | January 7, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

@54465446:

The BLS releases the data from two different surveys simultaneously each month, a household survey and an establishment survey. The 113,000 is the establishment survey's number; it is the preferable number to use if the question is "what was last month's job growth?". That is not the question I was addressing; I used data from the household survey because it had information that specifically related to a different question.

Posted by: eggnogfool | January 7, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - Given that you were befuddled by the Constitution...that "old document written by some white dudes a 100 years ago", is it safe for you to graduate to graphs? Baby steps dude.

Posted by: luca_20009 | January 7, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

eggnofool:

Fair enough. We've disagreed courteously before, no need to change that now.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Well Ezra it appears that other news organizations (that aren't left leaning) have a completely different take:


"US jobs report an ‘utter mess’
By Robin Harding in Washington

Published: January 7 2011 13:57 | Last updated: January 7 2011 19:16

Markets hoped that December’s payroll report would mark a breakthrough for the US economy’s recovery, with a surge in private job creation towards 200,000 – a level that would finally put a dent in the unemployment rate.

Instead they got a murky mixture of a report, prompting one economist, Rob Carnell of ING Bank, to call it an “utter mess” and question why markets focus so much on payrolls at all.


The employment survey, the normal focus of attention, showed overall growth in payrolls of only 103,000. That was well below expectations, especially after a disappointing November report and a remarkably high estimate from private- sector payroll processor ADP earlier this week.

Yet the household survey, from which the unemployment rate is calculated, sent a completely different message. It showed an extra 297,000 people in jobs and 260,000 fewer people in the labour force. The combination of the two was enough to cause a drop in the unemployment rate from 9.8 to 9.4 per cent"

.........Thankyou Financial Times for telling us that over 300,000 Americans gave up HOPE in December leaving the job market and thus THE REASON for the big drop in unemployment.....

But folks these people aren't working....they just are invisible now.

POST = covering up for the Democrat Party
.

Posted by: allenridge | January 8, 2011 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Mandelm wrote:

"This holiday season sales were very strong, reversing the trend in recent years."

Actually, they were weaker than expected, except among high-end retailers, but what's a little accuracy among friends!


Posted by: 54465446

============================

If you're interested in accuracy, which I'm not convince you are ... on-line sales were up more than expected. I suspect there are human beings with jobs who sit behind that on-line web page to fill the orders. Perhaps you think it's done with internet magic. Nor was it just high end stores. You don't get this story from just high end ...

2010 Holiday Retail Sales End the Year with a Bang

It was a happy New Year, indeed, for U.S. retailers. After a stagnant 2009 holiday season, there was a great deal to celebrate. The latest report from MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse™ shows a much better than expected holiday season for retailers with overall season-over-season growth of 5.5 percent. Wonderful news for an industry that was holding its breath.

As retailers and shoppers recuperate from the frenzy, a little lull is to be expected. But savvy marketers are looking for innovative ways to get consumers back into stores. Post-Christmas clearance sales combined with gift returns and gift cards received are solid motivation for return traffic. In fact, with total holiday gift card spending estimated at $24.78 billion, there’s money burning a hole in the pockets of millions of Americans, and opportunities abound for retailers to increase sales beyond that initial gift card amount.

While TV and newspaper ads are logical channels to promote post-holiday deals, consumers are simply tired of the onslaught. To reach them where they live with offers they can’t resist, front door marketing can seal the deal. The tactic has been around for awhile but has recently been elevated to a science and a viable subcategory of the direct response discipline. Previously considered less strategic, almost ‘untargeted’ for a broad audience, today’s front door is ripe for the same precision targeting used in other marketing methods. Data research, analysis and application have significantly increased effectiveness, dramatically shifting industry perceptions of the channel. By using high-level data, major brands are placing the most relevant offer directly with the right customer to deliver a tangible competitive advantage.

In the aftermath of a stellar holiday shopping season, what are you doing to get shoppers back to your store?

http://online.wsj.com/community/groups/front-door-marketing-network-1005/topics/2010-holiday-retail-sales-end

Posted by: James10 | January 8, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

James10:

Fair enough, we are talking about apples and oranges. While online sales incrrease every year, in-store sales at major retailers were not up as much as expected.

"For December, many retailers including Target Corp., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Macy's Inc. reported gains below Wall Street expectations. Clothing chain Gap Inc. suffered a surprise 3 percent drop in December. Analysts had expected a 2.6 percent increase.

Their shares took a beating. Target's stock fell almost 7 percent, while Macy's fell 3 percent. Gap's shares fell more than 7 percent.

More expensive retailers saw better-than-expected sales. Abercrombie & Fitch Co., which saw robust gains that beat Wall Street estimates, though it had to discount to lure shoppers in.

Luxury stores, including Saks Inc. and Nordstrom Inc., also reported big increases as the rallying stock market kept affluent customers spending.

Overall, department stores fared better than mall clothing chains. Discounters such as Target, which were among the top performers in November, saw sales slow in December."


Also keep in mind that major retailers at the lower end such as Walmart, Sears and Best Buy do not report monthy sales figures anymore.

You were right though in that my statement was not as accurate as it should have been. Thanks for the post

Posted by: 54465446 | January 8, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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