A Bit Of Context On 200,000 Jobs

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 6 2012 9:52 AM

A Bit Of Context On 200,000 Jobs

Above you'll find employment growth in the 1990s. You'll see that a 200,000 jobs month, though good, is hardly record-setting. And that was at a time when we weren't climbing out from a terrible ditch. Just a reminder that when I say things are improving and are likely to continue improving, that doesn't mean we're living through the best of times or that these policies we're being governed by are working out great. It's clearly logistically possible for a country to add jobs at a much faster clip that we're currently doing and it's possible to do it even without such an enormous overhang of excess capacity. The people in charge should be stepping on the gas and not just congratulating themselves.

One thing you saw here in December is that if suddenly it's Christmas and a bunch of people go buy more stuff, that leads to a hiring surge in the transportation and warehousing of goods. American firms, in other words, still hire people when they have more customers and America still has plenty of able-bodied workers to be hired. If the Christmas demand surge leads to an employment surge, then a demand surge orchestrated during a non-holiday season—by, say, giving ordinary people a bunch of free money—should produce the same effect.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.