The End of the Obama (Teeny,Tiny) Boom(let): Is That All There Is?

 

040315jobs3The streak is over. After twelve consecutive months of 200,000-plus jobs gains — the longest run since 1994 — the US economy added just 126,000 jobs in March, according to the Labor Department. That’s about half what Wall Street was looking for. Even worse, jobs gains for January and February were revised lower by a combined 69,000. So far this year, monthly jobs gains have averaged just 197,000 vs. 324,000 for the final three months of last year and 260,000 for all of 2014. “March US employment lays an egg” is how Barclays bank put it.

Sure, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5%, while the broader U-6 unemployment/underemployment measure fell to 10.9%, from 11.0%. Then again, you can thank a 95,000 drop in the labor force for that. Also, no progress on the employment rate, which stayed steady, or the labor force participation rate, which dipped a bit. And same-old, same-old on wages. Although average hourly earnings of private-sector workers rose 0.3% in March from February, to $24.86, growth over the past year is still just a meager 2.1%. Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers were up 0.2% and 1.8% over the past year. Meanwhile, look for first-quarter GDP growth beginning with a “1” or a “0.”

If you are a believer in secular stagnation, 2015 has been a year of affirmation so far. Over at Politico, ace reporter Ben White explores whether an economic downshift could “seriously complicate matters for Obama’s would-be successor, Hillary Clinton, who could wind up squaring off against a GOP opponent promising — fairly or not —an end to the desultory growth rates of the Obama years.” And Democrats surely don’t like headlines like this one from Yahoo News: “Except for rich, Americans’ incomes fell last year.” As I see it, 2016 will revolve around voters answering “Will you be better off eight years from now?” rather than “Are you better off than eight years ago?”

Here are two key job report tweets:

040315jobs4

040315jobs5

And two key charts, also via Twitter:

040315jobs11

040315jobs2

Published in Economics
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  1. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    James,

    This has been the real story all along. Krugman Delirium is the disease. All of the apologists for the BHO admin are the typhoid Marys. The private sector creates jobs as it creates real GNP. We are hyper-regulated. Lunatic energy policy. Lunatic anti-meritocracy educational system. Flooding the labor market with illegal semi-slave illiterate workers. Internationally noncompetitive corporate tax rate. Military misguidance of mission. Losing control of the sea lanes.

    This administration is the Junior Varsity. They are wasting America.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
  2. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @MatthewSinger

    Of course if an R is elected in 16, U6 and the participation rate will become  important numbers to the media.

    • #2
  3. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    mrsinger:Of course if an R is elected in 16, U6 and the participation rate will become important numbers to the media.

    mrsinger,

    They are the real numbers and should be important to us all. Only lunatic propagandists would want to use other numbers. You have noticed that the Republican Party is the sensible party and the Democratic Party is the silly party. The change is that the Democrats used to be the slightly silly party. Now they are the completely silly party. The media just assumes this and lets them off the hook as you would an uncle with Alzheimers.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #3
  4. iDad Inactive
    iDad
    @iDad

    Where’s AIG?

    • #4
  5. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    So we got a weak uptick from the energy boom and even that is petering out now that it rubs up against export restrictions? It was amusing, for a while, to watch the economic punditry try to call that a recovery. Simpletons and sellouts.

    • #5
  6. user_48342 Member
    user_48342
    @JosephEagar

    The problem America faces is that Europe’s economy is in the doldrums at a time when China is slowing its economy down to avoid burning out.

    That makes life difficult for us; while US growth isn’t as tightly coupled to that of our trading partners as it was after the recession, growth at home is still limited by growth rates abroad (this is the real story of the appreciating dollar).

    • #6
  7. user_1008534 Member
    user_1008534
    @Ekosj

    Looking at full time employment. Household survey. Series: Employed, Usually Work Full Time. (St Louis Fed data series LNS12500000)

    We are STILL 850,000 full time jobs below where we were in Nov 2007.

    • #7
  8. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Barfly: It was amusing, for a while, to watch the economic punditry try to call that a recovery. Simpletons and sellouts.

    Granting there is (or should be) an acknowledged difference between pundit and on-screen talent – and if by “amusing” you mean “readily translated into rules for a drinking game”- this frustration with what are really market pumpers as opposed to economic analysts seems to top my mind on the occasional strolls by FOX Business and CNBC.  Some are obvious sellouts (i.e. Lonesome Rhodes territory)…but I often wonder, with the exception of anytime Dagen McDowell opens her mouth, who among the talking heads really has a clue about the words coming from my screen, who could (if really pushed) formulate a relevant follow-up question, and who is a complete tool (slave to the teleprompter) and/or an off-script wildcard.

    • #8
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    I do. That is precisely what I mean by “amusing.” Brilliant insight.

    philo: – and if by “amusing” you mean “readily translated into rules for a drinking game”- this frustration with what are really market pumpers as opposed to economic analysts …

    • #9
  10. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    mrsinger:Of course if an R is elected in 16, U6 and the participation rate will become important numbers to the media.

    Very true.

    • #10
  11. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    All the big spikes on James’ chart are followed by significant drops, in some cases the pattern repeats at roughly the same time annually.  I’m assuming those are “job dumps” where some of the job data has been moved/aggregated from earlier months to later in the year.  During the 2012 election, a few people were crying foul on it, because it made the most recent job growth numbers look much better than the reality underlying them.

    There’s an entire mess of stupid going on with fiscal and monetary policy.  Chowderheads arguing that an increased minimum wage will inflate aggregate demand because employees will have more money to spend, ignoring the cost of the wage that the employer bears, and results in lower employment rates.  This kind of magical bullet thinking is what gives us an ever-growing pool of people not participating in the labor force, which is the real crime here, because the gov’t in its many forms has made it a viable alternative to actually having a job and building a life for yourself not found under the yoke of an EBT card or other program where Uncle Sammy takes care of you.

    I don’t think Barry fundamentally transformed America.  I think he just stepped on the big pedal harder than anyone else has in half a dozen decades – the big pedal being, here, the enlargement of government, in all its forms, except for the ones that really matter, like defense.

    • #11
  12. Copperfield Inactive
    Copperfield
    @Copperfield

    Lest we forget, it was once Morning in America.  (& Good post, James.)

    Real Recoveries

    • #12
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