Saturday, March 10, 2012

Job Growth Best Since 2006

The U.S. created 227,000 jobs in February, exceeding the pre-report consensus estimate of 213,000. The jobs increase, reported yesterday, topped 200,000 for the third straight month. The past three months of full-time job growth—the fastest since the end of the 2007-2009 recession—marks the best jobs growth since early 2006.

Job gains for January were revised up to 284,000 from 243,000, making January the best month of job growth in six years. Net hiring in December was also revised up, from 203,000 to 223,000. These upward revisions suggest momentum; the economy’s growth is likely to continue.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3%, but the rate’s failure to fall is a good sign. 476,000 people re-entered the labor force looking for work, meaning they now believe jobs are available.

Obama has an excellent shot at having the total number of jobs on election day exceed the total when he was inaugurated in January 2009. The U.S. economy only needs to generate 123,400 jobs a month—just half the current rate—to reach that target (see chart below).

On the conservative FOX News show “Journal Editorial Report,” the Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel warned Republicans to stay away from a simple 2012 “referendum on numbers.” She said they should instead argue GOP growth policies will outperform the president’s. Strassel’s comments indirectly confirm how much the basic job numbers are moving Obama’s way.

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