Hold the celebration. The recession may be technically over but it's hard to see it. Democrats in Congress and the administration will have to keep the champagne on ice, as the Wall Street Journal reports unexpectedly tepid job growth last month.
WASHINGTON—U.S. job growth slowed in March, and the labor force shrank, signaling that the economy could be losing momentum.
Jobs outside of agriculture grew by 120,000 last month—half the number that the economy added the prior month—the Labor Department said Friday, marking the first time since November that job growth fell below 200,000.
At the same time the unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a percent, from 8.3% to 8.2%. Ordinarily this would be good news, but what it truly reveals is the growing number of people giving up on finding a job.
The unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, ticked down a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2%, but the drop resulted in part from fewer Americans seeking work.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected a gain of 203,000 in payrolls and for the jobless rate to remain at 8.3% for March.
Could the cause of this anemic growth be the spike in gas prices? That's my bet. I know we've been told, ad nauseaum, that the president has no control over the price of a gallon of gas. But he does, really. He could chart a policy course that ramps up domestic production, which would signal the markets that supply is on the way. That's what President Bush did, and prices went down. Pretty quickly, too.
Don't hold your breath, as I suspect our reluctant president wants to keep the deck stacked in favor of his green energy plans. We can expect our watch dogs in media will be more than happy to cover for him on that. Falling gasoline prices would squeeze fledgling solar and wind companies, and we can't have that. Especially for the ones his campaign bundlers are so heavily invested in.