Friday, March 5, 2010

The Truth About the Employment Picture... And Another Supposed "Reid Gaffe"

UPDATE 12:15 PM: Via TPM, Reid's second Senate floor speech later today.

UPDATE 11:10 AM: H/T to Progress Now Nevada for this! Here's the full Harry Reid video:

And Media Matter's fact check on the Republican attacks.

So today we get some encouraging economic news. Retail sales are up. Factory orders are up.

Retailers said Thursday that store sales rose in February by the largest amount since November 2007. And orders to U.S. factories in January posted their sharpest rise in four months. It was another sign that manufacturing is helping drive the economic recovery.

The upbeat reports followed other encouraging signs this week: The service sector grew last month at its fastest pace in more than two years, according to a private survey of purchasing executives released Wednesday. And a similar survey on Monday found that manufacturers are also growing.

"We're going from a narrow recovery" led by manufacturing "to something much broader," said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. financial economist at IHS Global Insight.

And considering last month's harsh snowstorms, last month's unemployment numbers don't look all that bad.

The American economy lost fewer jobs than expected last month and the unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday, bolstering hopes that a still-tenuous recovery may be starting to gain momentum.

The government’s monthly snapshot of the job market found that another 36,000 jobs disappeared in February — hardly cause for a celebration.

Yet compared to the monthly losses of more than 650,000 jobs a year ago, and against a backdrop of recent news that increased the possibility of a slide back into recession, most economists construed the report as a sign of improvement.

“It’s strikingly good,” said Dean Baker, a director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who has been notably skeptical of signs of recovery in recent months. “It’s much better than it had been looking.”

Some economists suggested that the report would look even better were it not for heavy snowstorms that blanketed major cities in February, keeping would-be job seekers at home. Most experts now expect losses in the job market will give way to gains during the spring, as still cautious American employers edge gingerly back toward hiring.

“We’re still losing jobs in the economy, but it’s down to a trickle,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “We’re finally going to reach the turning point where we go from job losses to job gains.”

I get it. You get it. All of us with functioning brains get it. It's horrible to see any more job losses. I have friends who are unemployed, and I can tell you that it really sucks to see them struggle.

However compared to last year's and 2008's massive job losses, the overall jobs picture is looking much better. But of course, when Harry Reid tries to say this Republicans jump all over him. And of course, Shermie has to make a snide remark about it. Whatever.

Now I don't expect GOP operatives to be all that interested in the details of economic data and economic policy. That's not their job. However, I do have to say something when they twist the facts and twist Harry Reid's words to make him sound like someone he's not.

But then again, when have we ever expected better from them? They're actually still trying to make us believe Karl Rove's lies.

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