This afternoon, in an unbylined item headlined "US BUSINESS HIRING FINALLY TOPS RECESSION LOSSES," the Associated Press showed that it deserves the nickname "Administration's Press." The story embarrassingly described the job market's return to its previous January 2008 employment peak as a "pivotal moment." Get real. Given over six additional years of growth in the adult population, that's hardly the case.
To his credit, the AP's Christopher Rugaber, in a separate later submission, tamped down the enthusiasm, noting that "the economy is still millions of jobs short of where it should be by now." That's for sure. But whoever wrote the headline to Rugaber's story told an obvious untruth:
That simply isn't so:
The headline clearly refers to all employment in the U.S., including in government. As seen above, the nation has yet to return to its overall pre-recession seasonally adjusted employment peak in either the Household Survey or the Establishment Survey of employer payrolls.
Annalyn Kurtz at CNNMoney.com found a left-leaning economist who was quite blunt — and correct — in explaining why the job market's return to its former private-sector is hardly worth noticing:
So why doesn’t it feel like a recovery?
Given it took four years (since the employment trough of February 2010 -- Ed.) to get this point, this jobs recovery has been the slowest on record since the Labor Department started tracking the data in 1939.
The private sector data also misses an important piece of the puzzle: It does not factor in the growing population.
For that reason, Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist with the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, calls the private sector jobs number little more than a “psychological milestone.”
… According to Shierholz’s calculations, the U.S. economy still needs at least 5 million jobs to get back to a healthy pre-recession labor market, when the unemployment rate was below 5.5%.
At the current rate of job growth, that could still take five years.
Until then, she’s not ready to call it a full recovery.
Neither should anyone else, including anonymous AP writers who imply that's the case by describing it as a "pivotal moment."
I should note that the actual "pre-recession" unemployment rate in November 2007, the month before the National Bureau of Economic Research incorrectly claims the recession began, was 4.7 percent. The rate in June 2008, the month before the recession as normal people define it began, was 5.4 percent.
Note that the Economic Policy Institute is a decidedly liberal outlet — which puts the person at AP who claimed a "pivotal moment" far, far to the left.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.