Job Growth With A Dose Of Cautious Optimism
But Market Watch is calling the rise in jobs "unambiguously good news…with payroll growth up by 1.2 million, an average of 201,000 jobs per month. That’s the best job growth since early 2006."
The labor force rose by 476,000, many of whom were discouraged workers who had stopped looking for jobs. "We're getting a clear signal that people are becoming more confident they can find a job," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors to USA Today.
With an increase in the job force, the number of discouraged and marginally attached workers-- about 2.6 million who were not in the labor force but wanted and were available for work-- has dropped slightly. Though the number is close to where it was in December, it is 7 percent lower than January's numbers.
Among those 2.6 million are 1 million discouraged workers-- about the same amount as a year ago. Discouraged workers are not currently looking for work because they feel there is no work for them. The remaining 1.6 million marginally attached workers had not looked for work four weeks prior to the survey.
The 227,000 jobs surpassed the expectations of a consensus of economists who had anticipated 210,000. The industries that added the most jobs: professional and business services (82,000 jobs), education and health (71,000), leisure and hospitality (44,000) and manufacturing (31,000). Construction cut about 13,000 jobs; the government cut 6,000 and retail cut 7,400.
- Economist John Cannally of LPL Financial called the job growth "solid but not spectacular," adding that it likely would not prevent the Federal Reserve from possibly launching another round of bond purchases to stimulate the economy. While the the job market likely can withstand moderately rising gas prices, a worsening crisis in Europe almost certainly would dampen hiring, he says.
The New York Times also reported that though there have been signs of recovery, there were similar signs last year that only led to disappointment.
- "…last February, March and April saw net gains of more than 200,000 jobs each month. But then the effects of high gas prices, the earthquake in Japan and the resurgence of the fiscal woes in Europe kicked in, slowing job growth to a crawl."
- “Everyone got burned last year, from being elated over the better economic data only to have their hopes dashed come spring,” said Ellen Zentner, an economist with Nomura Securities International. “If we can get past April and these trends continue, I’ll breathe easy.”
Economists maintain that the growth needs to be stronger and longer before reaching a healthier unemployment rate so the rest of America can breathe easier too.