The Associated Press tried to put a happy face on Friday’s unemployment report:
The unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent in February as employers shed 36,000 jobs, fewer than expected. The figures suggested the job market is slowly healing but that significant hiring has yet to occur. . . .
Some economists said the data suggest that the job market is now pointed in the right direction and that the unemployment rate may have peaked. . . .
Ah, but even the happy-face approach can’t overcome the statistical sources of gloom:
The recession eliminated about 8.4 million jobs. And it takes 100,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate from rising. . . .
On Thursday, the House passed legislation giving companies that hire the jobless a temporary payroll tax break. Economists doubt, though, that it’ll create many jobs.
The jobs bill passed last week had a pricetag of $15 billion, but if the $789 billion stimulus bill passed a year ago didn’t create jobs, what good will $15 billion do? And this neo-Keynesian drop in the bucket doesn’t even begin to address the question of structural employment that Joseph Lawler has examined.
Even if the U.S. economy suddenly began adding jobs at the rate of 1.2 million a year, it would take seven years to get back to the employment level of 2007. So the real problem with Obama’s economic agenda isn’t political, it’s mathematical.