The employment recovery is real

By Felix Salmon
March 9, 2012
payrolls number -- and it's another solid report.

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I can’t remember the last time there was this much excitement and anticipation surrounding a payrolls number — and it’s another solid report. There were 227,000 new jobs created in March, and the already-excellent numbers from the previous two months being revised upwards: the figure for last month is now officially 284,000, a truly excellent number.

The really good news here is that this isn’t even really good news, at least from a market perspective. For a while there, the recent spate of upbeat jobs reports only served to raise worries that the other shoe would soon drop and we’d run into big downward revisions or monthly mean-reversion. Increasingly, however, this is looking like a real trend: the recovery in the American jobs market is going as well as anybody could reasonably expect. It’s still not enough to get the unemployment rate down to an acceptable level in the near term, of course: there’s still a jobs crisis in this country. But we’re moving in the right direction.

At this point, if we have a weak month between now and the election, it’s going to be the bad figure which looks like an aberration: only a sequence of two or three consecutive weak payrolls reports will really convince economists and the market that the recovery is going off the rails. It’s taken far too long to get here, but we’re finally moving in exactly the right direction, at an eminently healthy clip. Or, to put it another way: you can start breathing easier again, come the first Friday of the month. All those good job numbers were real, after all. And maybe next month the pundits won’t be on quite as many tenterhooks as they were this time around.

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