The American economy added a surprisingly weak number of jobs in May, a sign that nervousness over a cooling economy may be spreading among the nation’s employers.
The net increase in nonfarm payrolls in May — 75,000 — is a significant falloff from April, when the Labor Department estimates that 126,000 jobs were added, a figure it revised downward today from the 138,000 it initially reported.
it’s frustrating that the previous months’ job gains, which were consistently tens of thousands of jobs less than needed to keep up with population growth are now being referred to as good times. This is a miserable jobs figure, not just weak, but miserable. April’s 126,000 new jobs was only about 50 percent of the number of new workers in the economy that month. The average number of non-farm jobs created since the beginning of the year is only 164,000 a month, less than half during the 1990s.
I’d hate to be Henry Paulson, the incoming Secretary of Treasury, today. Read Paul Krugman’s warning to Paulson and ponder what his day was like after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announcement:
Americans are very unhappy with the state of the economy. According to Gallup, only 4 percent of the public considers the economy “excellent,” and only 25 percent considers it “good.” And there’s good reason for this unhappiness. Although profits and C.E.O. compensation have soared, most workers are significantly worse off than they were a year ago.
The official line, however, is that it’s a great economy, but that Americans for some reason aren’t hearing the good news (just like they aren’t hearing the good news from Iraq). Mr. Bush — who, by the way, isn’t the affable guy you may have thought you met — doesn’t seem as if he realizes that the economy isn’t all that good; in his public appearances he seems peeved that he isn’t getting credit for a great economy. And he expects you to explain to working Americans that the trouble they’re having paying their bills is just a figment of their imagination.