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July 02, 2004

More Jobs Created, But Far Less Than Expected

It's not exactly bad news. What it is the absence of good news, which, in this close political contest, is effectively bad news:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The pace of U.S. hiring slumped sharply in June after several months of robust gains, the government reported on Friday, as employers added fewer than half the number of payroll jobs forecast and hours of work shrank.

The Labor Department said only 112,000 jobs were created last month, far fewer than the 250,000 that Wall Street analysts had anticipated. April and May new-job totals were revised down, to 324,000 and 235,000 respectively, from 346,000 and 248.000.

The unemployment rate was unchanged, as expected, at 5.6 percent.

June still represented a 10th straight month of job growth that has added about 1.5 million workers to payrolls, but the unexpectedly steep slowdown last month may make it harder for President Bush to campaign for re-election in November on a claim of accelerating economic momentum.

In a sign of broader weakness, the average workweek eased to 33.6 hours in June from 33.8 in May, the shortest since a matching level in December.

All of June's job growth in service industries. The manufacturing sector lost 11,000 jobs, a reversal after four straight months in which factories had added jobs following years of decline.

I sorta had a feeling:

But I actually think that the period of positive surprises is passing us; I think that economists have adjusted their thinking, and that therefore the estimates won't necessarily be lower than the real numbers anymore. We'll start seeing estimates that are high about half of the time and low about half of the time.

...but I'm not taking particular satisfaction in that.

June's job creation wasn't very impressive, but that's not real cause for alarm. Look back at Clinton's record; he didn't manage uniformly good job creation month-to-month. Some months a pittance of jobs were created; in other months, jobs were actually lost. And yet the average, which is all that's really important, remained fairly brisk.

George Bush's average also remains fairly brisk-- better than brisk, actually. I wouldn't want to see the June numbers become a trend, but we also have to be realistic. We can't expect 250,000+ new jobs every month. Some months will feature more jobs, some less.

Expect the media, which remained studiously uninterested in job growth for the past five months, perferring to fret about rising interest rates, to suddenly regain its interest in the subject.

At least until July's report.

Predictable as the phases of the moon.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:16 PM

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