Home > Economy > The Jobless Front: Better News & Still a Long Way to Go

The Jobless Front: Better News & Still a Long Way to Go

The Bureau of Labor statistics reports unemployment dropped to 8.9% while nearly 200,000 jobs were added last month. It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, but counting “discouraged workers,” the real unemployment rate is still a stubbornly high 15.9%.

Since December of 2007, 7.7 million jobs have been lost. At the rate of 200,000 jobs a month, it would take three years to get back to those levels. The New York Times explains all in this piece that pretty accurately forecast today’s figures.

What’s disconcerting is the disturbing trend over the past couple of years that with every sign of an improving economy, oil prices go up as speculators anticipate increased demand. Throw in the unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa and dramatically higher gas prices over the spring and summer could threaten this modest recovery that appears to be underway. Just can’t buy as many goodies when it’s costing you $70 every time you gas up and consumer spending is a huge factor in our economy.

High gas prices also make everything more expensive because of increased transportation costs getting goods to market, so that raises the specter of inflation. Only way to combat that is to raise interest rates.

But it’s not all bad news. The real jobless rate of 15.9% reflects a drop from 16.1%. And a quarter of a million of us found jobs in February while 190,000 fewer people described themselves as wanting a job but unable to find one.

All the nice economic numbers in the world mean nothing, of course, if you find yourself on the unemployment line. But it is possible to take heart that chances seem to be improving for finding work out there. The job gains are in many different sectors including manufacturing, professional and business services and health care. The situation is still not bright in retail and very bad in the public sector- government jobs.

It is truly sobering how hard we have been hit over the past three years and how much longer it will take before we get back to anything resembling normalcy.

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