February Jobs Numbers: Could Be A Slowdown. Could Be The Weather. Could be DEMONS.

The February jobs numbers are out, and the only thing anyone can agree on is that it's kind of weird that following two months of solid job growth, only 20,000 new jobs were created in the economy, compared to a forecast of 180,000 new jobs by people who supposedly know things. So is this good news or bad news? What we keep seeing -- at CNN Bidniss, the New York Times, and Bigass Accountants R Us -- is that a single month's job numbers don't really mean a lot, since they could be a blip, who knows? Or maybe they could signal the END OF THE WORLD, because economix is funny like that.

The nice stodgy Times is reassuring, kinda sorta:

The economy's remarkably steady job-creation machine sputtered in February and produced a mere 20,000 jobs, the government announced Friday, prompting competing interpretations of whether the report was a fluke or a troubling omen.

The meager number was the smallest in well over a year. But it followed two months of exhilarating gains and may have been tinged by aftereffects from the government shutdown. The report also offered some unambiguously good news, with declines in key measures of unemployment and strong wage growth.

The turnabout in job creation offered a potent reminder that the Labor Department's monthly report captures just a moment in time. Longer-term trends are what matter, and the streak of job growth — now 101 consecutive months — continues to set records.

Translation: Thanks Obama! Also, cast your own damn chicken bones and hope for the best. Outlook cloudy, ask again later. Keep reaching for the stars, but note that the pathway to the exits is illuminated by lights in the floor panels. And by golly, look at this chart USA Today put together, which again, you shouldn't freak out about unless that little February nubbin is repeated for March and April:

The lines are animated on the website, and pop up like toast. It's pretty.

Most reports remind us the economy is still getting back on track after the government shutdown: On the up side, government workers went back to work, so that's nice. But the shutdown had a measurable effect on hiring, too:

The shutdown also postponed hiring both within the government and in the private sector, in part because the federal electronic service that verifies the employment eligibility of prospective workers — E-Verify — was not operating. Some of those hires, particularly in the public sector, may still be in the pipeline. Government payrolls — federal, state and local — were down by 5,000.

The smaller numbers of new jobs had some analysts saying it's possible there just aren't enough qualified workers to fill the jobs that are available, maybe. Overall economic growth for the first quarter of 2009 is forecast to "dance around the 1 percent bar," says the Times, perhaps trying to make economics palatable by making readers think of strippers. Also too, there's this:

Personal disposable income drooped, while the United States trade deficit in December grew more than expected.

The global economy also appears more fragile now than it has been in recent years. Worldwide, trade tensions have constricted trade while China, Europe and Canada are all struggling with slowing growth.

Oh gosh, don't let President Tariffs hear that or he'll be grumpy and throw strained mashed soybeans right in your face.

Fortunately, CNN found an analyst who says it's weather. We can understand weather, so let's hear it, Mac:

"This is pretty much a weather story," said Scott Brown, chief economist with the investment banking firm Raymond James. The Labor Department noted that 390,000 people reported they couldn't get to work because of weather, after a relatively mild January. "I wouldn't worry about the payroll figure at all. I don't think it tells us much" [...]

The construction industry lost 31,000 jobs in February, likely due to bad weather. Leisure and hospitality employers added no jobs, after increasing their payrolls by 410,000 over the past year. Manufacturing turned in an anemic month after a year of strong gains. Business and professional services was the one significant category that added jobs.

Happily for people with jobs (which is all of you, so get ready for Republicans to slash the safety net more), wage growth continues to increase. That's really the only thing the Senate GOP could find to brag about on Twitter:

Dang, we hate to seem cynical, but if Republicans are going out of their way to promote that instead of the overall jobs numbers, we're a little inclined to go make sure our Wonkette Doomsday Prepper Bunker is stocked with booze, Twinkies, Hot Pockets, and Ritz crackers, because if the shit hits the fan, this damn Keto diet will be the first thing out the window.

[NYT / CNN Bidniss / USA Today / KPMG]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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