Monday, November 08, 2004

Jobs

Le Monde has the best article I've seen on the latest job numbers. It points out that the increased unemployment rate is actually a positive sign for the economy: it means more people are looking for work (even if unsuccessfully) -- rather than dropping out of the labor force as they had before. This shows that the marginal unemployed worker is more optimistic about his/her labor force chances than before, a very good thing given that expectations matter so much.

The numbers aren't, however, as optimistic as might be. The U.S. economy created 337,000 jobs in October. The economy has to create 240,000 jobs a month just to stay even with population growth. So it produced 97,000 excess jobs. But 77,000 of those jobs came in construction due primarily to the damage of the hurricanes in Florida. I agree with Instapundit that it is slightly ironic that the hurricanes helped Bush in the election (if you think the economy matters) given that some had viewed them as divine retribution for voting patterns in 2000. Yet 97,000 - 77,000 gets you only 20,000 excess jobs, which is better than nothing but still not good.

[Or see Henry's post below for more accurate numbers and basically the same point].

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