JEREMY HOBSON: Now let’s get to the nation’s job picture. Two reports out this morning. One — from the payroll processor ADP says private employers added 179,000 jobs last month. That number disappointed economists.
The other report — from the job placement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas — says layoff announcements hit their lowest level of the year last month.
Let’s dig into the numbers now with Richard DeKaser. He’s an economist with the Parthenon Group in Boston who joins us live every Wednesday. Good morning Richard.
RICHARD DEKASER: Good morning.
HOBSON: Well first, what do you make of these numbers?
DEKASER: Well, you know the ADP number was decent, but though not as good as it was the previous four months. The Challenger numbers for layoffs was good — lowest this year, but not as low as it was late last year. I think what it all adds up to is that we’re going through a little bit of a slowdown or a soft patch if you like, and just last week the government told us for example that real GDP was up at 1.8 percent in the first quarter. And that compares with numbers around 3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and for last year as a whole. So, clearly there’s been a slowdown, the question is it going to persist or is it temporary. and I would argue that we can point to a number of transitory special factors like the tsunami in Japan, heightened compact in the Middle East and higher energy prices.
HOBSON: Is it going to be enough, I mean if we’re going through this slow patch, is it going to be enough to give this economy what it needs?
DEKASER: Well, I don’t think so. I think we’re really at a modest growth trajectory. You know, in the 50s, 60s, even the 70s and 80s, economic expansions were doing 5-, 6-, 7 percent GDP growth in the first couple of years, but starting in the 90s, the new normal has been closer to 3 percent, and we seem to be on track for that at this point. It’s OK, but it’s certainly disappointing given our past history.
HOBSON: Richard DeKaser, economist with the Parthenon Group, thanks as always.
DEKASER: My pleasure.
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