Economy Added 203,000 Jobs In November

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 6 2013 8:44 AM

Economy Added 203,000 Jobs In November  

453917207
Let's get to work.

Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

A very decent jobs report today says the economy added 203,000 jobs in the month of November and revised the previous data up slightly. The unemployment rate as measured by the household survey has fallen to seven percent. And this month it fell despite an increase in the size of the labor force. Steady growth, continuous improvement.

Naturally this is going to heighten "taper" fever as Fed watchers (and FOMC members) with itchy trigger fingers have a palpable yearning for a return to normalcy. But I think it's quite important at this time in American history for the central bank, not to regard itself as the institution whose job it is to take the punch bowl away before the party gets started.

Advertisement

One reason for that is fiscal policy. The nature of the deadlock in congress is driving us toward more austere policies. Even the negotiations around sequestration are all about replacing it with other kinds of spending cuts or revenue-raisers. Nobody is talking about doing anything to increase the budget deficit. When that's the case, there's much less need for a bunch bowl watchdog.

But the more important reason is the longer term context. The idea of a central bank whose main job is to take the punch bowl away before the party gets too fun belongs to a time of moderate macroeconomic fluctuations. If it's been a long time since you've had a prolonged or serious recession, then it makes a ton of sense to become very vigilant about inflation—even "incipient" or largely hypothetical inflation. But when you had a year of recession (2008) followed by a year of extreme recession (2009) followed by a year of slow growth in which unemployment remained high (2010) followed by another year of slow growth in which unemployment remained high (2011) followed by another year of slow growth in which unemployment remained high (2012) followed by a fourth year of slow growth in which unemployment remained high (2013) it would be very unbalanced to act hyper-vigilant about inflation. It's been a long time since the bulk of workers have had any meaningful bargaining power, and the wise thing to say would be that, yes, we would in fact actually like to see a party get started here.

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

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.