Ball State economist Michael Hicks says any enthusiasm over February’s employment summary would show just how low our expectations have become in this recovery.
The Labor Department reported this morning that the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, as 236,000 jobs were created last month.
“The good news was that preliminary job creation numbers topped 236,000 for the month,” says Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State. “This is about half the rate we would require to absorb those unemployed in the Great Recession by the end of the decade.
“Bad news was just as thick in the report. Earlier employment estimates for December and January were revised for a net loss of 15,000 and more than 130,000 more workers left the labor force in February, driving our labor force participation rates to levels not seen in over 30 years.”
Hicks believes the unemployment rate will keep falling as long as workers continue to leave the formal workforce.
“February’s numbers are clear — for every two workers who find a job, more than one quits looking,” he says. “Incomes rose tepidly, as should be expected with the slight increase in the average hours worked. “