For many months, I’ve been very skeptical about the regular jobs reports that are fairly upbeat in the way they describe the economy. I still feel that way, though the direction is certainly better than say right during the post-financial crisis months.
Only days after many voters complained that the economy was getting worse, the latest government report on jobs, released Friday, provided fresh evidence that it was getting better. Employers added an estimated 214,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department found, and the official jobless rate, bolstered by a big rise in the number of people finding jobs, dropped to 5.8 percent, down sharply from 7.2 percent last October.
The increase, combined with a revision that showed 31,000 jobs were added to the numbers previously reported for August and September, puts the average monthly employment gain for the past six months at 235,000 — an indication, analysts said, that the economy’s progress was gaining momentum.
And Dean Baker is more upbeat as well in an emailed “Jobs Flash”:
The other news is the report was overwhelmingly positive. The establishment survey showed a gain of 214,000 jobs, with restaurants (42,000 jobs) and retail (27,000 jobs) leading the way. With upward revisions of 31,000 to the prior two months data bringing average growth over the last three months to 224,000. In addition, average weekly hours edged up to 34.6, the highest level since May of 2008.
The household survey also showed a further decline in involuntary part-time employment, with the number dropping 67,000 from the September level. It is now almost 1 million below the year-ago level.
By contrast, voluntary part-time employment is continuing to rise. It increased by 152,000 and now stands 880,000 above its year-ago level. The rise in voluntary part-time employment is likely in part attributable to the Affordable Care Act as workers are now able to get insurance through Medicaid or the exchanges, whereas previously they needed to work a full-time job.
But, I’m still not convinced. Wages are still anemic and people are in debt. Jobs out there still don’t pay a living wage in too many instances. And there are worrying signs all across the globe, particularly in Europe, that the “recovery” is pretty weak.
It just appears to be a pretty lumbering, barely dynamic economy that would slump with any significant headwinds.