Economists' Roundtable on February Jobs Report

By Jheanelle Chambers, Intern

U.S. jobs numbers for March are due out next week. In anticipation, here is a quick review of what D.C.’s leading economists had to say about the February job numbers.

Heidi Shierholz, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) — Strengthened jobs recovery:

Over the last two years the labor market has gained back nearly 3.5 million jobs, after losing more than 8.7 million in the downturn. However, the jobs deficit remains very large, especially when you take into account not just the 5.3 million fewer jobs we have now than we did before the recession started but also the fact that we should have added around 4.7 million jobs over this period just to keep up with normal growth in the working-age population. Even at the quite strong average growth rate of the last three months (245,000 jobs added per month), it will take around five years to get back to full employment in the labor market.

Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) — Healthy Job Growth Pushes Employment-to-Population Ratio Upward:

The employment-to-population ratio is 0.4 percentage points above its low for the cycle. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) edged up to 58.6 percent in February, its highest level since May of 2010, as the Labor Department reported that employers added 227,000 jobs in February. With upward revisions to the prior two months' data, average job growth over the last three months is now reported as 244,000.

Heather Boushey, Center for American Progress (CAP) — Sure and steady job gains: Congress should do more to maintain momentum:

Another contributor to the less-than-robust jobs gains is budget-driven cutbacks by state and local governments, which have been hemorrhaging workers, shedding more than 647,000 since August 2008. Much of the public sector layoffs have hurt female workers, especially as women have lost 416,000 state and local government jobs. This show up in the employment data: For adult men the share employed is 67.7%, higher than at any time since June 2009 when the Great Recession ended, while for adult women the share employed is still hovering near recession lows of 55%.

Jheanelle Chambers served as a 2012 intern with the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

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