Awful monthly jobs report should wake up Washington

AWFUL MONTHLY JOBS REPORT SHOULD WAKE UP WASHINGTON…. I noticed McClatchy ran a story overnight with a headline that read, “Friday’s November jobs report expected to be rosy.” The headline was wrong — the report is genuinely awful.

After seeing an encouraging trend through the fall, and a relatively strong jobs report in October, this morning’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on November fell far short of expectations, and represented a noticeable reversal in the wrong direction.

In a significant setback to the recovery and market expectations, the United States economy added just 39,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, the Department of Labor reported Friday. […]

Private companies, which have been hiring since the beginning of the year, added 50,000 jobs in November. Government jobs dropped by 11,000.

I realize that economists tend to emphasize that it’s unwise to overreact to any one report, but this one feels like a punch to the gut. For all the indications that the job market was starting to pick up a little steam, this morning’s jobs report suggests the exact opposite.

If our political system were sane, awful news like this would be a much-needed wake-up call that would spur policymakers to action. There would be an immediate drive on the part of Congress and the White House to do far more to stimulate the economy, inject more capital into the system, and invest in job-creation measures immediately.

Instead, Americans just elected a new House majority that is prepared to do the exact opposite — taking money out of the economy, scrapping economic stimulus, and ignoring all job-creation measures. Voters were angry about the economy last month, and in a tragic irony, elected people intent on making the economy worse.

The job numbers were revised upwards for September and October, but this morning, that’s little comfort.

Once again, here’s the homemade chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction — red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.

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