A Holy Resurrection of an economic recovery that is...
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As Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, many believe the economy is poised to celebrate a resurrection of its own. However, I suggest the ascension of our economic state could prove a sort of holy resurrection. It is, in fact, full of holes that are leaking away growth as we pump it full of economic stimulus propellant.
Friday proved Good though, kind of, as the Labor Department issued an apparently absolutely positive Employment Situation Report. You see, recent data has offered up relatively enthusing information, but this latest report for March gave us actual job gains, versus just the lower losses we have grown accustomed to. Nonfarm Payrolls improved by 162K, and prior months, January and February, were both revised to better levels as well.
Can you imagine that the economy actually added jobs on net in March? If you can, wake up, because you are a dreamer! The gain was partly due to a temporary boost of 48K jobs on census hiring. Also, the old birth/death rate adjustment surely swung some favor toward the sum. Oh, and did I mention that Wall Street was looking for the addition of 200K jobs last month? So the data actually disappointed against expectations. I think I just poked another hole in the fragile pot of economic recovery. Keep reading... it gets worse.
The unemployment rate stuck at 9.7% in March, which is of course still horribly high. If we adjust the figure to include part-time workers who would rather be working full-time, and add back the folks that the Labor Department describes as "marginally attached" to the labor force (despite their interest in working), then the "under-employment rate" jumps to 16.9%. That's eye opening, since the rate is unfortunately higher than the 16.8% level we measured here in February.
Here's the math for those interested: ((15.005M Unemployed + 2.3M Marginals + 9.1M Involuntary Part-Timers) / (153.910M Labor Force + 2.3M Marginals)) * 100 = 16.9% Under-Employment Rate.
"So, even though we supposedly added jobs in March, more people were recorded as unemployed on the whole! Only the government can work magic numbers like that."
The reason the figure is up is because of a jump in the part-time workforce and also the total number of unemployed. So, even though we supposedly added jobs in March, more people were recorded as unemployed on the whole! Only the government can work magic numbers like that. I would say the Employment Report is full of timely and holy data.
While some of us might not have noticed the facts outlined above, the 6.5 million folks who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more (again a higher number than in February and encompassing 44.1% of classified unemployed people) are nodding their heads in disgust.
Last week produced some other ugly labor numbers, including Challenger, Gray & Christmas' announced corporate layoffs, which were listed at 67,611 for March, versus the 42,090 recorded in February. Also, the four-week moving average for weekly jobless claims was reported at 447,250, which seems to clearly show an unhealthy labor state.
We think a few of the pundits who quickly hit the wires and radio waves Friday overjoyed about a so-called improving labor situation would be wise to repent. Otherwise, they will be judged according to their works. Do not get me wrong though. Even I think the economy will eventually recover, just at a slow pace, burdened by anchored unemployment and rising interest rates.
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