BOB MOON: It is definitely not good news — the unemployment rate is back up to 9.1 percent. The Labor Department reports employers added just 54,000 jobs last month which is the fewest in eight months.
Jill Schlessinger is editor-at-large at CBS/MoneyWatch. She’s with us live from New York, as she is every Friday. Wish it was under better circumstances this time around, Jill. It’s bad, to be sure, but just how bad?
JILL SCHLESINGER: It is pretty, pretty awful. The consensus estimate was for around 150,000 new jobs to be created. And for the unemployment rate to tick down a little bit. This report was such a big disappointment because it’s a big step back. The news follows good reports in the prior three months when job creation averaged 220,000 per month.
MOON: You know the timing of this is really bad too because the Fed is close to ending its easy money policy to encourage lending and spending. Does this maybe change that plan do you think?
SCHLESINGER: I don’t think the Fed’s going to restart its bond buying strategy when it winds down at the end of this month. And the reason is that it’s just not clear that would create a real boost to the economy. Now, politicians could renew some of last year’s temporary tax cuts and credits, but you know, at the end of the day, economic growth has not been fast enough to encourage employers to hirer more people. I always think the only reason employers add to their payrolls is because they have to when they need more hands to process the business that’s coming in. We’re just not seeing that kind of activity across enough sectors to propel consistent job growth and that’s really the disappointment. And of course, with 14 million people or so out of work, we really need a better, better job creation plan.
MOON: Well, Jill very quickly, is there any end to this in sight do you think?
SCHLESINGER: You know, I always say that when it looks the darkest, yes there is end in sight. This could be a temporary slowdown. We certainly did have some strange factors in the first part of this year including weather and the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan. So it could be that we see a pick up in the second half of the year and I very rarely like to bet against the U.S. economy.
MOON: Jill Schlesinger is editor-at-large at CBS/MoneyWatch. Thanks for your take this morning.
SCHLESINGER: Great to be with you.
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