Comment on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report

Bart van Ark, Chief Economist, The Conference Board

February Jobs Growth Shows Strength, But More is Needed

Mar 04, 2011, 09:26 ET from The Conference Board

NEW YORK, March 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today's U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report of a 192,000 February increase in payrolls shows employment has rebounded from a disappointing start to 2011.

While the increase in employment continues to lag the pick-up in the broader economy, it is encouraging to see the job numbers moving in the right direction. However, once we account for the recovery from January's weather effect, February's gains hardly suggest an acceleration relative to the slow trend of about 100,000 jobs per month during the second half of 2010. Assuming an aggregate productivity trend, including government, of about 1.5 percent, the economy would need to grow well beyond 3 percent in order to double the trend to an average of 200,000 jobs over the next couple of months. With a shrinking government, a stagnant construction sector and a small manufacturing base, only consumer spending can generate that kind of improvement in hiring.

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