After a few months of encouraging jobs growth, the December employment report was a bummer. It indicated that the economy added only 74,000 jobs — far below the 200,000 that most economists were forecasting. Even though the job growth news was disappointing, the unemployment rate declined, because another 347,000 Americans stopped working or looking for work.
The economists think that December’s job growth number was an aberration that may have been caused by cold weather or other temporary conditions. Let’s assume they are right — although economists seem to be wrong in their forecasts much more often than they are on the money — and the job growth returns to the 150,000 to 200,000 new jobs per month rate we saw for most of 2013. Even if that happens, I think the focus on the job growth number is misplaced.
We need jobs, to be sure — but we…
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