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March’s job report: Not great

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Scott Jagow: I figured we’d just get our daily dose of bad economic news out of the way first. The Labor Department gave us the latest jobs report this morning. And it does suggest a certain economic malaise. Here’s Alisa Roth.


Alisa Roth: Eighty thousand jobs disappeared in March. That’s the biggest monthly drop in five years, and makes it three months in a row for lousy job numbers.

Both construction and temp jobs were among the biggest losers. Ditto for financial services. The number of service sector jobs grew, though just barely. And revised figures from the first two months of the year show things had been worse than everybody first thought.

Economist Hugh Johnson says the significance is obvious:

Hugh Johnson: It’s fairly clear that for a variety of reasons — the credit conditions, high oil prices, housing prices declining, you name it — there are a lot of problems facing the U.S. economy. And as a result, employers are starting to play it safe.

And yes, he says, we are in a recession. The real question is how long and how deep it’ll be. Johnson, for one, thinks the scene’ll start looking better by the third quarter.

Meanwhile, there’s chatter the Fed will cut interest rates yet again. Though with rates as low as they are, there isn’t much room left to do that.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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