A Lackluster Jobs Report

It’s the first Friday of the month, so it’s time for the monthly employment reports, and today’s are pretty disappointing—only a net 115,000 jobs were created in April, leaving us still pretty far off from where we should be.

That’s certainly better than the fall of 2008, when the economy was plummeting and shredding half a million jobs or more every month. But 115,000 jobs a month isn’t the kind of rate that can get us out of the hole the recession put us in.

The economic situation isn’t help by the fact that we continue to shed public-sector jobs. Private-sector growth is driving the recovery, and that’s great, but at the same time, state and local cuts are throwing teachers and firefighters into the ranks of the unemployed. Austerity doesn’t create economic growth, and the problems caused by unemployment aren’t any better when the person who lost their job worked for a school or a state agency.

It’s especially galling that the same right-wing politicians who have pushed these cuts are gloating over bad jobs reports. They’ve managed the tricky feat of hurting the economy while using economic pain as a political argument.

In a must-read Washington Post story this week, reporter Zach Goldfarb explains how hundreds of thousands of lost state and local jobs have undermined the economy:

Beyond education, dozens of states have cut funding for services for the elderly and disabled and for emergency service providers such as police and firefighters.
Experts worry that the cuts will have lasting effects.

“There’s a big body of research showing that a lot of the things that state and local governments spend their money on have long-term effects on the economy and society as a whole,” said Nicholas Johnson, vice president for state fiscal policy at CBPP. “Cutting school funding now can hurt the education of a future workforce.”

It’s a sign of a deep dysfunction in our political system that we aren’t focusing all of our energy on putting people back to work. The obstruction of the American Jobs Act last year is just one symbol of a failure to deal with an ongoing jobs crisis.