The American economy added 162,000 new jobs last month, but about 90,000 of those jobs were needed just to keep up with population growth, so net job growth clocked in at 72,000. That’s about the same as last month. In fact, it’s about the same as every month for the past year: OK, but not great. The headline unemployment number declined to 7.4 percent, mostly due to more people getting jobs, but partly due to more people dropping out of the labor force.
There’s really not much else to say. There are no big stories here about any particular industry, or about government employment, or anything else. Wages are flat, as they have been for the past couple of years. We’re just stuck treading water: The economy isn’t in horrible shape, but neither is it showing any signs of accelerating into a genuine recovery. Or, to put it another way: the economy isn’t bad enough to persuade Republicans to do something about it, but neither is it good enough to be producing lots of new jobs on its own. As always, we need to keep on hoping that nothing catastrophic happens in China or Europe or anywhere else, because right now we’re not in good enough shape to ride it out.