57,000 new jobs in November, though 11,000 higher weekly first-time unemployment claims this past week.
The Labor Department revised its figure for October growth to 137,000 jobs -- 11,000 more than previously reported. But September's growth was revised to 99,000 jobs, which was smaller than the first report by 26,000 jobs.
Hard to know what to think. Third quarter productivity soared, and lots of other leading indicators suggest good times are at hand, but the jobs figures disappoint -- economists argue we need to add 150,000 per month to sustain unemployment levels (though last month's fell, slightly), and Bush promised a sustained 250,000 per month through '04 to get his last tax cut through. Economists aren't consistent;
"It's a positive report, there's no question about it," said Stephen Gallagher, chief U.S. economist at SG Cowen. But he noted that employment growth, while firming, "remains shy of levels needed to conclude that U.S. consumption" and job growth will be sustained throughout 2004. Mr. Gallagher said job growth needs to be above 150,000 for three to six months.
Ed McKelvey, an economist with Goldman Sachs & Co. in New York, says the economy needs to add 400,000 jobs a month over the next year to replace the three million private-sector jobs lost in the last three years and sustain the recovery. His figure far exceeds the average of the late-1990s economic boom.
Meanwhile, we need to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed -- about 90,000 unemployed workers exhaust their regular benefits each week.