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Putting Unemployment into Perspective

April 2, 2010

Via Sullivan, here is a graph depicting job losses and gains:

Viewed one way, this is encouraging news.  Last month, we added 162,000 jobs — many more than January ’10 or last November, which are the only other months of job growth since January ’08.   Better yet, if Krugman is correct, the economy is adding jobs, “even once you adjust for Census hiring and February snow.”

Still, the number of job losses depicted here is truly staggering.  Very roughly, it looks as though we would need three more months of recovery on par with March just to make up for the losses in January ’09.  Meanwhile, the White House projects that we won’t see unemployment drop to 5% until 2017.

So is the latest jobs report good news? Well, it isn’t bad news.

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