Felix Salmon

Economic glimmers of light

By Felix Salmon
August 7, 2009

What does it mean when employment and unemployment both move in the same direction? It might be an error in one of the two pretty fuzzy datasets, or it could be, as Agnes says this morning, a real turning point. That’s certainly what the bond market seems to think.

My feeling is that it’s far too early to say that unemployment has stopped rising, and that clearly nobody believes employment has stopped falling. We’re moving to a world where a smaller workforce works a shorter workweek, and that bodes ill for any kind of strong sustainable growth unless and until we see a serious and improbable turnaround in the jobs situation.

All the same, on such a happy day it would be churlish not to take some joy from today’s figures. The most vertiginous part of the economic plunge is clearly over, and there’s some real hope for (modest and painful) economic recovery going forwards; there’s actually a very good chance that the next few GDP figures will be positive. That’s something to celebrate a little.

3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

it’s noise and the drop in the unemployment rate is for the “wrong” reason: massive number of people leaving the workforce.


But it would be churlish not to note that even a drop dependent on a shrinking labor force participation rate handily beats the six months in a row of 0.4-0.5% increases we had from November to April.

Some of that difference is likely noise. But not nearly all.

Posted by CJ | Report as abusive

GDP growth from the third quarter on was already generally expected. The question is how strong will it be.

Posted by Mike in NYC | Report as abusive

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