As I looked over Friday's strong employment numbers, I had a hard time spotting the bad news that would certainly be ferreted out by those who have developed a knack for that—then I decided it would probably be the usual exclusive focus on the shrinkage in manufacturing and construction jobs, instead of an inclusive assessment of the whole jobs-growth picture.
For some reason, that triggered a mental replay of five years worth of bad-news rationalization by the doom peddlers (i.e., by those whose hidden political agenda drives their public economic commentary). Here's my recollection of how the bad-news ferrets' message evolved:
• 2001-2: The economy isn't growing.
• 2003-4: ...okay, it's growing, but it's a jobless recovery.
• 2005-6: ...okay, it's growing and creating jobs, but only the rich are benefiting.
• 2006-7: ...okay, it's growing, creating jobs, and wage growth is beating inflation, but we're still beleaguered by the dreaded deficit.
• 2007: ...okay, it's growing, creating jobs, creating higher wages, and the deficit is disappearing, but, uh, we still need to raise taxes because, uh, let's see... yeah, that's right: because there are still too many rich, and because the oil companies are making too much profit. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Oh, well. As I've said many times before: politics trumps economics.
But I digress; let's get back to the latest employment numbers. In the last 12 months, the US economy netted 1.64 million new jobs (private nonfarm), the average wage increased 3.6%, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% (from 4.6%). Once again, as both graphics show, the jobs that disappeared in manufacturing and construction were more than replaced by higher paying jobs in information, wholesale trade, and business services (not to mention the other categories).
And here's the usual table summarizing the numbers: