What Do the April Jobs Growth Numbers Mean for the Recovery?

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Today’s jobs numbers — 115,000 new jobs in April — are causing some to worry our recovery may be softening. Mitt Romney pounced on the numbers this morning, calling them “very, very disappointing” on several networks.

“We should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created per month,” Mr. Romney said. “This is way, way, way off from what should happen in a normal recovery.”

Media that Matters contextualizes Romney’s ambition by noting that 500,000 jobs growth in a month has only happened “five times since the end of the Eisenhower administration: March 1978, April 1978, September 1983, September 1997, and May 2010″ — and a “grand total of 16 times in U.S. history.”

To put that in perspective, monthly job growth that exceeds 500,000 happens with roughly the same frequency as perfect games in baseball, of which there have been 19 since 1900. (Not an exact comparison, of course, but it illustrates the infrequency.)

Washington Post reporter Brad Plumer explains that because monthly jobs numbers are “noisy” — and often adjusted after the fact — economists prefer to use quarterly averages. For this year’s first quarter, that works out to be 201,000 new jobs per month. Plumer puts that number in perspective by pointing out that it’s about the same pace as the best year during the 2000s (namely, 2005).

But what does all this mean in terms of closing the jobs gap and getting back to pre-recession unemployment figures?

The Hamilton Project’s handy interactive tool allows you to plug in any jobs-created-per-month number and see how long it would take to close the gap. (via Washington Post) We plugged in 201,000 — the projection is nearly 8.5 years. Try it yourself.

Closing the Jobs Gap, The Hamilton Project

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  • http://treegrower.org/ CalvinLeman

    An FDR type solution like CCC or WPA would have employment fixed and the economy working for all by now.

  • DJBatchelder

    Of course a CCC or WPA would work, but then the job increase would be good for American workers. Unfortunately, the Republicans feel they’d lose if the American people win, so they do everything they can to pull for the recession to continue. The only solution I see is to pull the straight Democratic ticket and send the RepublicaNOs back to their Tea Party and to Grover Norquest’s No Tax Pledge lists. That’s the only way to reach them. Retire them.

  • Lael Bradshaw

    thank you for explaining

  • johniji

    The jobless recovery, like the crash and the recession, are part of the “planned economy” that benefits the rich. Corporate profits recovered long ago, and many big players are sitting on record amounts of cash. So why maintain the hiring freeze and the credit squeeze? Obviously because it serves the interests of those who wield economic power. They’d like to manipulate the next election with a view to avoiding any culpability for the moral hazzard they created in the markets and in banking practices; and they’d like to continue giving themselves tax breaks and subsidies while squeezing the middle class out of existence and shredding the “safety net” for the poor. The question is: “Are we going to let them get away with it, again?!”. I believe the answer will be a resounding: “NO!!!”.

  • Mike Watson

    is this the beginning of America’s Lost Decade? 

  • Keeks54

    Thanks for setting the record straight.  When I hear the j0bs statistics on the “news”, I dismiss them.  I know they are “spin” intended to keep people dissatified.  Mitt Romney knows he can get away with inflamatory and factual inaccuracy because people do not take the time to seek contrary evidence, even when it is accessible.

  • Mary

    Would you please explain how jobs are created exactly.  I understand government job creation programs like the Civilian Conservation Corp but are jobs created in the private sector only as a response to demand?  In Germany, companies make “accommodations” to keep people employed (and off government benefits’ programs) and even create jobs, so if U.S. corporations have accumulated huge amounts of cash, couldn’t they create jobs in order to stimulate the recovery rather than hoarding cash?  If they did that voluntarily the government wouldn’t need to be the villain and raise taxes, and the excess capacity would disappear.   The hospital my daughter works in could sure use some more nurses and the schools I teach in could sure use more teachers.