Unemployment at 8.8 Percent

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 1 2011 9:34 AM

Unemployment at 8.8 Percent

If you're a numbers junkie, that's a drop of one full point since November 2010. It's also the first time since 2006 since the economy's added more than 200,000 jobs for two consecutive months. That's also canceled out by this:

Employment in local government continued to trend down over the month. Local government has lost 416,000 jobs since an employment peak in September 2008.

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The slow private sector recovery is coming as states introduce austerity programs that are slashing back salaries for public sector workers, or firing them outright. (Pause now for a Bill Sammon monologue about socialism in the Obama era.)

I notice that Republicans are avoiding the traps of February and March, and not taking credit for the good numbers. Eric Cantor is aggressively generic: "Even with this good news, far too many people remain out of work and we need to continue our efforts in Washington to foster pro-growth policies that will help businesses small and large to innovate and expand."

But a couple of days ago, Tim Pawlenty was predicting -- not with any great amount of data analysis, mind -- a double-dip recession. Possible! But why predict it?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.