Today's employment report showed that employment increased by 431,000 last month, with 411,000 of those new jobs at the Census, and 20,000 new jobs in the private sector. The unemployment rate fell from 9.9% to 9.7%.
I'll just repeat what I said yesterday in response to ADP's estimate that private sector job growth would be more than twice as large as it actually was, 55,000:
Remember that we need 100,000 to 150,000 new jobs each month just just to keep up with population growth, so even if this figure is accurate we still aren't making net gains in terms of accommodating new workers. And with millions of workers still unemployed, a growth rate for jobs that simply keeps up with population growth isn't enough, jobs need to grow faster than population growth if we are going to reabsorb the unemployed into the workforce. Job growth is better than job loss, of course, but we shouldn't get too excited about this figure (see Calculated Risk as well).
[A growth rate of 20,000 jobs] still barely covers population growth -- it won't do much if anything to make inroads on the existing unemployed... Positive job growth is progress, but we shouldn't get too optimistic about labor market conditions until we are actually covering population growth and rehiring significant numbers of the unemployed. Brookings estimates the employment gap to be in the neighborhood of 11.3 million workers, but even if true number is slightly smaller than that, there are still millions and millions of unemployed workers who cannot find employment, are under employed if they do find work, or are too discouraged to even look. We need private sector job growth in the hundreds of thousands before labor markets will begin to heal, and we are nowhere near that figure yet. Hopefully we'll get there before too long, job growth in excess of 500,000 private sector jobs per month was a feature of previous recoveries, but we shouldn't assume that good times are just around the corner.
All in all, this was not the strong report I was hoping for.