According to the government’s say-so, “the economy added 200,000 jobs in December, double November’s pace and all of it coming from the private sector.” Given that “the sectors that added the most jobs was transportation and warehousing” and “courier services such as UPS,” the employment uptick is realistically a “seasonal swing.” Either way, it’s safe to say that if not for the Obama administration’s heavy handed interventions, the growth in private-sector employment would have been greater.
Better news is that “governments have continued to shed workers. Public agencies cut 12,000 workers in December, with most of those cuts at the local level.” This is a drop in the bucket, given the size of the US oink sector, and the degree to which it impinges on the private economy. (By way of an example, here’s an ad for a parasite for hire: and “Invitations Coordinator” paid for by taxpayers.)
In Francis Wilkinson’s optimistic assessment—he’s a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board—“The jobs gap is still 12.1 million jobs. At a rate of 208,000 new jobs per month, it will take slightly more than 12 years to close that gap, according to the Hamilton Project, a public policy group started in 2006 by the Brookings Institution. For the unemployed, the U.S. labor market remains the worst since the Great Depression.”
UPDATE: Tricky Statistical Tactics, via Paul Craig Roberts (and BAB contributor below):
The official unemployment rates (U3 and U6) no longer measure all of the unemployed. The Clinton administration ceased counting as unemployed workers who had given up looking for a job for one year or longer. No discouraged workers are included in the widely reported U3 measure. The U6 measure includes workers who have been discouraged for less than one year.
In other words, the longer an economy is in the doldrums, the less the official unemployment rates are reliable measures of the extent of unemployment. The unemployment rate in December as measured by U3 is 8.5%; as measured by U6 which includes short-term discouraged workers (less than one year) is 15.2%. John Williams’ measure which includes the long-term unemployed is 22.4%.
In other words, the real unemployment rate is 2.6 times the widely reported U3 rate, which is the rate emphasized by policymakers and the financial press.