Job Outlook Still Bleak

There's some improvement in the job market, writes David Madland, but many indicators hit new lows in May and employment still looks grim.

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Widespread job losses continued in May, pushing the economy toward a number of dubious achievements. Long-term unemployment is now at an all-time high, jobs have declined for a record number of consecutive months, work hours are the shortest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the data, and many other indicators of labor market distress are at or near historic levels.

The Labor Department figures released today were better than many economists predicted. Employers shed 345,000 jobs in May, which is fewer than in recent months. It is good news that the rate of job growth has slowed, but you would need rose-colored glasses to claim that the labor market is anything but grim and the economy isn’t mired in recession. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is beginning to pump money into the economy—$43.7 billion has already been spent—but job growth will take more time.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project