Tonawanda News

Today's Top Stories

August 4, 2012

Glass half full?

Economy generates 163K jobs in sign of resilience

(Continued)

Tonawanda News —

From April through June this year, the economy expanded at a listless 1.5 percent annual pace, a slowdown from the January-March pace of 2 percent.

The job market got off to a strong start in 2012. Employers added an average 226,000 a month from January through March.

But the hiring spree was caused partly by an unseasonably warm winter that allowed construction companies and other firms to hire earlier in the year than usual, effectively

stealing jobs from the spring. The payback showed up as weak hiring — an average 73,000 a month — from April through June.

Then came the 163,000 new jobs in July, beating the 100,000 economists had expected.

Now that the warm weather effects have worn off, economists expect job growth to settle into range of 100,000 to 150,000 a month.

That would be consistent: The economy has added an average of 151,000 jobs a month this year. But that hasn’t been enough to bring unemployment down. At 8.3 percent, unemployment was as high in July as it had been in January.

The unemployment rate can rise even when hiring picks up because the government derives the figures from two different surveys.

One is called the payroll survey. It asks mostly large companies and government agencies how many people they employed during the month. This survey produces the number of jobs gained or lost.

The other is the household survey. Government workers ask whether the adults in a household have a job and use the findings to produce the unemployment rate. Last month’s uptick in joblessness was practically a rounding error: The unemployment rate blipped up from 8.22 percent in June to 8.25 in July.

Worries have intensified that the U.S. economy will fall off a “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year. That’s when more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts will kick in unless Congress reaches a budget deal.

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