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March job growth sluggish

People meet potential employers at a job fair held at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), on March 21, 2012 in New York City.

If the stock market were open today traders would have been laser-focused on today's jobs report. And it might have been ugly. Sure, the economy added 120,000 jobs in March. But economists were expecting better.

Marketplace's Adrienne Hill guides us through this latest not-awful-but-not-terrific news on employment.


Adriene Hill: It can be easy to freak out about a less-than stellar jobs report. But, sometimes, you just gotta take a deep breath, and look at how far you’ve come.

Gary Burtless: It’s still progress.

Gary Burtless is a labor economist at Brookings.

Burtless: The pace of job growth has picked up in the last six or seven months, even including a mediocre month such as we had in March.

Last year the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent. Today we’re at 8.2 percent. The economy has added nearly 2 million jobs. But, don’t get too relaxed on me. We’ve got a long way to go.

Sylvia Allegretto: I think we’ll probably reach full employment sometime between 2019 and 2023 and that’s no joke.

Sylvia Allegretto is an economist at Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor & Employment. She says the economy is still down about 5 million jobs since the recession. And about 40 percent of the people who are out of work, have been without a job for half a year or more.

Allegretto: It’s still much higher than we saw in any other recession.

The problem, she says, is that the longer people are out of a job the harder it is to get back; skills fade, jobs change. And some workers are being forced to settle for less.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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My take ... sad end to a good quarter. The first 30 months since the official end of the Great Recession, July 2009 to December 2011, basically ended off at break-even with population (and work force) growth and taking that into consideration, none of the 8.7 Million jobs lost have been regained until the start of this year (about 200,000 in Q1). The Hamilton Project at Brookings figures a best case of five years to regain all of those lost jobs, as Sylvia Allegretto said in this report.

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