In addition, average wages in private industry ticked up by 4 cents an hour, though over the year wages have not kept pace with inflation. And government downsizing, which has been a drag on the jobs numbers, slowed in December, with only 12,000 public jobs lost. The private sector added 212,000 jobs.
In another positive sign, the unemployment rate seemed to be dropping at a faster rate than the number of new jobs would imply. This is perhaps because new businesses and the newly self-employed are less likely to be counted in the Labor Department’s survey of businesses, from which the job numbers are drawn, than in its survey of households, from which the unemployment rate is calculated.
Now keep in mind we aren’t at pre-crash levels, but an economy is kinda like a car. Put an idiot in charge and he can crash it to pieces in an instant. Give it to better hands and, although it will get rebuilt and repaired, it can take some time.
The important thing isn’t just that this happened in the past month, but that we’ve had roughly a year of gradual improvements. To use another analogy, think of it like weight loss (since we’re hitting the New Year). Dropping five pounds in a weekend seems nice but doesn’t mean much. However, dropping one pound a week for a few months is far more meaningful.
Let’s just hope another foreign disaster, Euro crash or Iran going nuclear on someone, doesn’t hit us with the proverbial weekend fast food binge.