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June 4, 2004
The Jobful Recovery

After much hew and cry regarding the so-called "jobless recovery" -- as if job growth had ever been anything but a lagging indicator in the past -- the economy has created almost a million jobs in the past three months, as 248,000 were added last month and the April estimate was revised sharply upward:

The Labor Department report showed 248,000 new jobs in May, compared with the revised 346,000 increase reported in April. Economists surveyed by forecast the May report would show a 225,000-job gain.

The April job gain was revised up from a previous reading of 288,000 new jobs. The March jobs gain was also revised higher to 353,000 from a previous reading of 337,000 additional jobs. That puts the three-month job increase at 947,000, the best gain since 1.03 million jobs were added during the same three months of 2000.

The job increase was broad-based, with only government employment falling in the period. Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs and construction added 37,000. Retailers added 19,000 jobs.

Here in Minnesota, the unemployment rate has dropped to 4.1%, and feels lower as it has become more difficult to find entry-level workers even at more than twice the miminum-wage rate. Jon at QandO also discusses productivity gains, demonstrating that not only are we expanding, but we're expanding intelligently, and workers aren't getting screwed either:

Hourly compensation increased 5.1 percent during the first quarter of 2004. When the rise in consumer prices is taken into account, real hourly compensation rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter. Unit labor costs in nonfinancial corporations rose 2.7 percent in the first quarter, after falling in eight of the previous nine quarters.

At the national level, assuming that the 248K rate stays fairly constant, we can expect to add 1.2 million jobs by the election for a total of well over 2 million for '04 -- an expectation that the media roundly hooted at when the Bush administration predicted it in January. Now they look positively psychic as compared to the press. However, as Hindrocket notes at Power Line, they won't resist getting any dig in they can:

The Associated Press notes that the jobs report "was good news for President Bush." But the AP wouldn't want anyone to draw the wrong conclusions, so it can't resist adding:

Still, the economy is far from the booming 1990s. Last month, 8.2 million people remained unemployed.

It's always fun when liberals do statistics. Current unemployment rate: 5.6%. Average unemployment rate during the "booming 1990s": 5.76%.

Let's see ... jobs being added, worker compensation rising ... wanna bet that the Kerry campaign won't be saying, "It's the economy, stupid"?

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 4, 2004 9:18 AM

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