Unemployment may be nearing bottom

Crowds wait to apply for jobs outside the New York Department of Labor in the Bronx in New York City.


CORRECTION: The audio version of this story misstates the number of jobs that Dave Huether of the National Association of Manufacturers said have been lost in the manufacturing sector during this recession. The text below has been edited to include the correct figure.


TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Yes, you heard me right a moment ago: 12.5 million Americans are now looking for work. The unemployment rate hasn't been this high in more than a generation. More than 650,000 jobs were lost in the past month.
Still, as bad as it is, our D.C. Bureau Chief John Dimsdale offers us this ray of hope from Washington:
Some see signs of a bottom.


John Dimsdale: After Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Keith Hall delivered the bad news to the congressional Joint Economic Committee, Representative Carolyn Maloney asked two questions:

Carolyn Maloney: Are there any bright spots in this month's jobs report? Is there any good news in our economy?

Keith Hall: There are very few bright spots, if any in this report. Labor market weakness is deep and broad across all industries and all demographic groups.

Thirty percent of all the jobs lost since the recession began have been in manufacturing, says Dave Huether with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Dave Huether: The decline that's already taken place is actually greater than the average decline of all the recessions in the post World War II era.

Some economists predict at least a 9 percent jobless rate by this summer. Jon Fisher, who teaches business at the University of San Francisco, says that's the result of last years' hits to housing and banking.

Jon Fisher: There is a limit to these things and I think the data we're seeing in unemployment and related data is indicative to past damage in our economy and not that the economy is getting worse and worse. So I think we are nearing a bottom, both in the national unemployment data as well as the severity of the market corrections.

Fisher says now that construction is at a standstill, housing demand will finally out pace supply. And that should create jobs. He thinks stock market investors are overreacting to where we've been, rather than focusing on where we're going.

In Washington I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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