Employment Picture Even Grimmer Than You Think

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Every month Steve Benen publishes a handy chart showing job gains and losses since January 2008. Looking at the latest dismal numbers for May, he concludes, “Any sane person should look at these numbers and conclude that the economy desperately needs a boost.”

But it’s worse than that. As I mentioned yesterday, the U.S. economy needs to add about 150,000 jobs per month just to stay even with population growth. This means that you really need to look at how many jobs we gained above (or below) 150,000, not above or below zero. So here’s Steve’s chart, modified to show just that. As you can see, the last eight months, when the economy has supposedly been starting to recover, has actually been virtually flat. Relative to population growth, we’ve been generating no new jobs at all.

So yes: “Any sane person should look at these numbers and conclude that the economy desperately needs a boost.” Even the not especially sane ought to have figured that out by now.

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