The June jobs report in one word: ‘unchanged’

July 6, 2012

You can sum up the June jobs report in one word: Unchanged.

"The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent," says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As for the number of unemployed persons? "Essentially unchanged." The long-term unemployed? "Essentially unchanged." The labor-force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio? "Unchanged." The number of part-time workers who want to be full-time workers? You guessed it. "Unchanged."

That said, not everything was unchanged. The unemployment rates for adult men and women, as well as for teenagers, "showed little or no change." The same goes for employment in "mining and logging, construction, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government": Again, "little or no change."

In this economy, little or no change isn't good enough. We added 80,000 jobs in June. That's not enough to keep up with population growth. So, in the context of our growing workforce, the labor market lost ground last month.

The question now is whether these numbers will change our economic policy. In Congress, the answer is almost certainly not. So, much as the data makes an overwhelming case for, say, hiring hundreds of thousands of workers to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, or passing a large employer-side payroll tax cut to goose hiring, there's little chance House Republicans will greenlight either policy response.

But with Congress largely on the sidelines, inflation low, and the labor market recovering, there's a stronger and stronger case for the Federal Reserve to step in more aggressively. "The big question is whether this is a weak enough report to get the Fed to move," writes economist Justin Wolfers. "I think it is, and they will."

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