Will the slow job growth continue?

Mitchell Hartman Dec 2, 2011

Mitchell Hartman: We’re likely to see continued, modest job growth when the Labor Department releases its November employment report later this morning, though it may not be enough to push unemployment below the current 9 percent level.

Labor economist Gary Burtless is with the Brookings Institution in Washington. Good morning, Gary.

Gary Burtless: Good morning.

Hartman: Are we generally starting to see a little bit more strength in the job market?

Burtless: On average over the last three months, there’s been a gain of about 114,000 per month in payroll jobs. And those are not spectacular numbers, given the high unemployment rate, but they certainly indicate that there’s fast enough job growth so the unemployment rate should not be rising. And in fact, it is slowly edging down.

Hartman: And what kinds of jobs have we been adding?

Burtless: I think there’s been a tiny bit of growth in manufacturing. Education and the health care sector have been robust demanders for new workers, and temporary help industry has also been adding to its payrolls.

Hartman: Recently there are some serious risks to the global economy, and the U.S. economy. Could what looks to be a slight improvement quickly be derailed?

Burtless: I certainly think that businesses’ confidence and then might lead them to layoff a lot of employees. But there’s also a problem arising from the political impasse here in the United States. The deep division between the parties means it’s very, very tough for the two of them to agree on measures — even to keep the stimulus measures going past the end of this month.

Hartman: Gary Burtless at the Brookings Institution. Thank you very much.

Burtless: Thank you.

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