Private-sector job growth

PRIVATE-SECTOR JOB GROWTH…. In the previous post, we talked about the new monthly jobs report, with the chart we’ve all come to know and love. But following up on the tradition we started a couple of months ago, many of you have emailed to suggest it’s time for a slightly different chart — one showing just the private sector job market.

To be clear, public-sector jobs count, and it’s absurd to suggest otherwise. When workers lose their jobs, it’s devastating for them, and it undermines economic growth for everyone — whether the job was paid for by taxpayers or not. The problem is, the rise and fall of Census Bureau jobs can offer a skewed picture — some months, such as May 2010, look better than they should, because the monthly total is exaggerated by hundreds of thousands of Census jobs. Other months, such as June 2010, are distorted in the other direction, looking worse than they should.

Of course, those who work for the Census Bureau count, too, and those who’ve lost these temp jobs will obviously want to find new employment. The point is, the gain and loss of these Census jobs were predictable and set out in advance, and don’t really tell us much about the larger employment landscape.

In October, the economy added 159,000 private-sector jobs, far exceeding expectations. It’s the best private-sector total since April, and the second strongest report since the start of the Great Recession in late 2007. It was also the tenth consecutive month of private-sector growth — a streak unseen in more than three years.

All told, the economy has added more than 1.1 million private-sector jobs in 2010. For comparison purposes, note that the economy lost nearly 4.7 million private-sector jobs in 2009, and lost 3.8 million in 2008.

With that in mind, here is a different homemade chart, showing monthly job losses/gains in the private sector 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. (Note: the chart reflects revised totals from August and September, per data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

privatejobs_oct10.jpg