No Jobs Recovery

The US economy added 162,000 jobs in March. Great news until you look more closely. In March, the federal government began hiring census takers big time. These are six-month temp jobs, and they tell us nothing about underlying trends in the labor market. It’s hard to gauge precisely how many were hired — probably between 100,000 and 140,000. A million will need to be hired over the next few months. Subtract these, and today’s job numbers are nothing to write home about.

There are some positive signs. Manufacturing payrolls expanded a bit, heath care employers added 27,000 jobs, and about 40,000 private-sector temp jobs were added. But payrolls continue to be slashed in financial services and the information industry.

Bottom line: This is no jobs recovery.

Since the Great Recession began, the economy has lost 8.4 million jobs and failed to create another 2.7 million needed just to keep up with population growth. That means we’re more than 11 million in the hole right now. And that hole keeps deepening every month we fail to add at least 150,000 new jobs, again reflecting population growth.

A census-taking job is better than no job, but it’s no substitute for the real thing.


CORRECTION: In my March 30 posting, “Fraud on the Street,” I stated that a whistle-blower who’d alerted Ernst & Young to fraud had been fired by Ernst & Young. It’s actually worse than that. The whistle blower was from Lehman Brothers itself, and he was fired by Lehman when he tried to blow the whistle. Apologies to Ernst & Young. Even bigger condemnation of Lehman.

About Robert Reich 545 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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