Posted Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, at 8:59 AM
Something to recall here is the interplay between public and private figures. Throughout 2011, the private sector numbers we were getting were okay. They weren't the kind of catch-up numbers that we'd like to see, but they were unquestionably numbers consistent with an improving labor market. But then state and local government layoffs clawed back a lot of those gains. If in 2012, as most people think, improved tax revenues mean states and municipalities can stop those layoffs then even the same old private economy starts looking better. But it's better than that, since state/local layoffs were actually hurting the private sector by reducing demand for the goods and services it produces. We've been in a negative feedback loop, but it should turn positive in 2012. The real question is whether policymakers will support this recovery or find some new blunder to undermine it with.