On the surface, Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) looked pretty good, and the response from establishment economists was predictable: the economy continues to grow, Obama’s policies are working, just give them time, and so forth.
For the record, the BLS reported that “total non-farm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged [from September] at 7.9 percent.” It disclaimed any impact that Hurricane Sandy had on these numbers as the data upon which their report was based had been collected before the storm.
Diane Swonk, an economist at Mesirow Financial told CNBC: “The consumer’s feeling a little bit better…[employers] are not hiring out like crazy, but certainly you’ve got to welcome these kinds of numbers.” And Arne Kelleberg, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, claimed the report proved that “the fundamentals are strong. I do see the cyclical aspects of the unemployment situation being rectified.” This is professor-ese for: yup, things are looking good.
Not to be outdone, Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak, a high-end investment management firm in New York, exclaimed:
Overall the report is an encouraging one and for now we have to be satisfied with a significant above-consensus reading and a strong upwards revision…
Official Obama cheerleader Alan Krueger, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, added: “We’re moving in the right direction. What we need to do is build on this progress…”
A look behind the headline numbers is revealing. Employment gains for the year have averaged 157,000 jobs per month, only marginally higher than in 2011. Net improvement over the past year? None.
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