Thursday, July 12, 2012

Job Growth Then and Now

Looking at last month’s job growth numbers, I got curious. The question I asked myself was: What does a so-called “healthy” economy look like? I decided to chart, as I’ve been charting monthly job growth or decline for the current period, a like sequence of months going back to December 1994 and extending to June of 1998. That was, of course, a period of expansion, known later as the bubble. I present the data here:

The scale used in both charts is the same. Now, mind you, 2009 was part of the great recession, hence it shows steep job losses. The last three years in the two examples are instructive, however. Growth in the late 1990s also fluctuated month to month, and that period actually had two months of net job losses. But the gains were almost uniformly higher in each month, in most months exceeding 200,000 jobs. Not so in the current period. That earlier period, however, shows where the tilting point is. It is around 200,000 jobs gained every month. Once we start averaging round about there, the media will lose interest in this series and they’ll go back to chasing what’s new on the Funk scene—or where the great art of “body decoration” might be headed—or whether it’s time for big cars and even bigger trucks to became the rage once more.

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