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March jobs report: Jobs gain, unemployment falls


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http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/01/news/economy/jobs_report_unemployment_march/index.htm

chart_jobs_040111.top.gif

By Chris Isidore, senior writerApril 1, 2011: 11:46 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Improvements in the job market may finally be taking hold, as strong business hiring last month brought the unemployment rate down to its lowest level in two years.

The economy gained 216,000 jobs in the month. That's better than the gain of 180,000 predicted by economists surveyed by CNNMoney, and also a significant improvement over the 194,000 jobs added in February.

"Almost two years after the recession officially ended, the labor market appears to finally be picking up," said Kathy Bostjancic, director of macroeconomic analysis for The Conference Board.

The unemployment rate continued to edge down, dropping to 8.8%, the lowest level since March 2009. The unemployment rate has shed a full percentage point in the last four months, the largest four-month drop since 1984.

"The unemployment rate has broken through the sound barrier and is continuing to decline," said Sung Won Sohn, economics professor at Cal State Channel Islands. "The recovery in employment is here to stay."

While the payroll numbers are compiled from a survey of employers, the unemployment rate is determined by a separate survey of workers, which also showed significant improvement.

The number of discouraged job seekers who want to work but have given up actively looking was down slightly, as was the number of workers who wanted full-time jobs but could only find part-time work. Another encouraging reading -- the number of people who lost their jobs during the month was down by 125,000, falling to the lowest level in two years.

"It's strong across the board," said Tig Gilliam, president of the North American unit of job placement firm Adecco. "Is it as fast as we'd all want? Probably not, but it's moving in the right direction and it continues to accelerate."

Who's hiring and who's not

Private businesses added 230,000 jobs. Since businesses started hiring again a year ago, they have now added 1.8 million jobs, with nearly a third of those jobs added in just the first three months of this year.

The trend in business hiring is widespread, with 68% of industries adding jobs so far this year. Among the leading sectors were business and professional services, which added 78,000 jobs, health care and social services, which brought on 44,000 workers, and leisure and hospitality, which increased staffing by 37,000.

One closely watched sector, temporary workers, grew by nearly 30,000. That is important because many businesses will bring on temporary staff as a prelude to making permanent hires.

But while businesses continued to bring on new staff, public sector employers trimmed 14,000 jobs during the month, mostly at the local government level.

Local government staffing, which includes teachers, police and fire fighters as well as other administrative jobs, held up pretty well in the first 18 months of the recession while business payrolls were plunging. But those payrolls have now lost more than a quarter-million jobs in the last 12 months, with more than half coming from public schools.

And there is still continued pain for those without work. There are 13.5 million people who are unemployed, and another 6.5 million who would like a job but are not officially counted as unemployed because they're not looking.

Of those who are counted as unemployed, 45% have been out of work for six months or longer, and the average length of unemployment is a record 39 weeks.

Even with March's encouraging readings, climbing out of the 8.7-million job hole created during the recession will take a long time.

Economists say the labor market typically needs at least 300,000 new jobs each month to make a significant difference in the unemployment rate, and at least 150,000 just to keep pace with population growth.

"Job growth still isn't strong enough to bring the unemployment rate down rapidly," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics. "If the rate is only falling by 0.1% each month, it would take another three and a half years to get back down to the pre-recession level."

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More jobs is better than less jobs. slow progress being made.

Early prediction:

If Obama wins reelection the unemployment rate will be worse on his inauguration day than on his election day

If a Republican wins the election, the unemployment rate will be better on his/her inauguration day than on election day.

I gotta remember to bookmark the prediction:)

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More jobs is better than less jobs. slow progress being made.

Early prediction:

If Obama wins reelection the unemployment rate will be worse on his inauguration day than on his election day

If a Republican wins the election, the unemployment rate will be better on his/her inauguration day than on election day.

I gotta remember to bookmark the prediction:)

You realize that there is no way to test your hypothesis.

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Thousands of state and federal jobs are going to be slashed, so expect unemployment to climb back up again over the next year when that happens.

And we can thank the GOP for that, but then they'll just say it's "Obama's Economy" even though it's their legislatures that are going to be cutting the jobs, but hey what do facts have to do with reality.

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And we can thank the GOP for that, but then they'll just say it's "Obama's Economy" even though it's their legislatures that are going to be cutting the jobs, but hey what do facts have to do with reality.

"We can't cut public sector jobs now, when the private sector has been hit so hard!"

(Times change.)

"Why should we cut public sector jobs now, just when we're seeing some green shoots? Do you want to kill the recovery?"

(Times change again.)

"Cut public sector jobs now, when the economy is doing well and our budgets aren't forcing us to? That's cutting for the sake of cutting! What kind of corporatist agenda is this?"

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"We can't cut public sector jobs now, when the private sector has been hit so hard!"

(Times change.)

"Why should we cut public sector jobs now, just when we're seeing some green shoots? Do you want to kill the recovery?"

(Times change again.)

"Cut public sector jobs now, when the economy is doing well and our budgets aren't forcing us to? That's cutting for the sake of cutting! What kind of corporatist agenda is this?"

The only one we haven't seen yet is the last one and that's when you cut, we aren't there yet....soooo.

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And we can thank the GOP for that, but then they'll just say it's "Obama's Economy" even though it's their legislatures that are going to be cutting the jobs, but hey what do facts have to do with reality.

Hi I am ASF. My only responses can include words like GOP, REPUBLICAN, and bull**** :)

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And we can thank the GOP for that, but then they'll just say it's "Obama's Economy" even though it's their legislatures that are going to be cutting the jobs, but hey what do facts have to do with reality.

Have you ever bought anything with empty pockets? Didnt think so. Its about time our gov't takes the same approach and stop relying on the fed as faux money tree. The faster we get the budget under control by cuts the faster the recovery will really begin. We are being propped up by printed dollars and artificially low interest rates that are unsustainable.

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Have you ever bought anything with empty pockets? Didnt think so. Its about time our gov't takes the same approach and stop relying on the fed as faux money tree. The faster we get the budget under control by cuts the faster the recovery will really begin. We are being propped up by printed dollars and artificially low interest rates that are unsustainable.

You aren't entirely lucid on this subject, I take it. You're using catch phrases like they're shots of tequila. Settle down, son..its ok.

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When the market started going up the past year, people said "Yeah, but where are the jobs?" The response to that was that jobs have historically followed a recovery from I think 8-12 months.

Now it looks like private business is picking up the pace with hiring.

How is this not a good thing? It shows that some people knew what they were talking about.

It also doesn't mean that things are fixed. Things CAN go wrong. Lawmakers need to be careful not to change a lot right now.

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How is this not a good thing? It shows that some people knew what they were talking about.

It also doesn't mean that things are fixed. Things CAN go wrong. Lawmakers need to be careful not to change a lot right now.

Pretty much my thoughts too. Why lay off gov't workers when unemployment is still very high? You not only increase the number of folks drawing unemployment, but at the same time you decrease the amount of tax revenue from those jobs. All so the GOP can make sure the unemployment numbers stay as high as possible for as long as possible...or at least until late 2012.

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I'm all for cutting costs for private and government. But not when you know its going to have a negative impact down the road. Cutting spending on education is stupid when you're already falling behind some countries in math and science. Consider it an investment because those kids are going to lead private industry down the road.

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I'm all for cutting costs for private and government. But not when you know its going to have a negative impact down the road. Cutting spending on education is stupid when you're already falling behind some countries in math and science. Consider it an investment because those kids are going to lead private industry down the road.

I agree, and I think I've said that cutting spending in the long term is a good thing, but not when that is going to have a doubly negative impact. And why in the world states go immediately for education cuts is beyond me. If there is anything we should be increasing spending on it's education, yet it's always the first thing on the chopping block, meanwhile all the pet projects still receive ample funding.

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You aren't entirely lucid on this subject, I take it. You're using catch phrases like they're shots of tequila. Settle down, son..its ok.

Would it help you understand big picture thinking with flashcards next time?

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When the market started going up the past year, people said "Yeah, but where are the jobs?" The response to that was that jobs have historically followed a recovery from I think 8-12 months.

Now it looks like private business is picking up the pace with hiring.

How is this not a good thing? It shows that some people knew what they were talking about.

It also doesn't mean that things are fixed. Things CAN go wrong. Lawmakers need to be careful not to change a lot right now.

I think it was January when the unemployment dropped from 9.4 to 9.0. It was actually considered horrible news because the economy only added 36,000 jobs. You need 150,000 jobs a month just to keep up with new blood entering the work force. The reason the unemployment number went down was because the record number of people who exhausted their unemployment benefits or gave up looking aren't counted in the official number. Obama knows he must get the unemployment number down below 8% if he wants to get re-elected. Housing remains dismal. The number of those getting food stamps is at record levels. Then you have to look at the possibility of food, gas and energy inflation coming.

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Good news on the economy.

When it comes to the education spending issue, I think you have to look at the spending and see if it is actually effective. The people who support the cuts to education do not think that the money being spent actually improves the kid's knowledge or ability to compete in the future. Several studies that I have read indicate that funding increases have generally not resulted in improved student performance. For example, say a state gives funding to increase a teachers education and earn specific credentials. After a while, you can analyze whether this resulted in improved results for the students. If it didn't you should probably eliminate the program (cut education spending). I'm open to seeing studies that show how education budget increases have resulted in measurable improvements in student outcomes, but even then you need to look at what specific spending is working and what spending is not. You cut what isnt working.

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