Explaining Today’s Great Jobs News

Our guest blogger is Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

New data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the private-sector added 450,000 more jobs as of March 2012 than previously thought. This means that the economy has crossed the threshold and more jobs have been created than lost during President Obama’s term.

This is a remarkable accomplishment — and one that would not have happened without the Recovery Act and other policies developed by this administration and passed by the 111th Congress in 2009. When President Obama was sworn in, the economy was losing jobs to the unprecedented tune of over 20,000 per day. Between the beginning of 2008 and February 2010 when the tide began to turn, the economy lost nearly 8.8 million jobs — 4.3 million on Obama’s watch and almost 4.5 million under President Bush’s.

In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law and funds began almost immediately moving their way through the economy and the pace of job losses slowed, turning positive a year later. Since February 2010, including the newly revised data, the economy has added 4.4 million total payroll jobs, an average of 135,00 per month.


Even so, today’s data contained another glaring statistic: the economy has lost more than 700,000 public sector jobs since 2009, holding back the overall recovery. Without those losses, our unemployment rate would be at least a full point lower.

The data released today is part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual benchmark revisions to the establishment data and the magnitude of the revision is consistent with prior years, about plus or minus 0.3 percent. The establishment data includes all employers who pay into the unemployment insurance system, which is virtually every employer. Most firms file monthly reports for their payroll taxes, but some are late, some firms go out of business, some start up. Thus, once a year, the BLS sits down with the final UI payroll tax data to update the data previously released.

As the following chart shows, the economy has now added private sector jobs for 30 consecutive months: