It’s no wonder that, as the New York Times (NYT) headline declared: “Growth in jobs slows sharply to 3-year low.” Addressing the Labor Department’s disappointing December Jobs Report, CNNMoney’s headline states: “2013 ends with weakest job growth in years.” USA Today called it a “Big miss” and CNBC’s Jim Cramer sees the 74,000 gain in payrolls as “A disastrous unemployment number.”
USA Today surveyed 37 economists whose median forecast for the December jobs number was a gain of 205,000 jobs.
Not only did the report’s 74,000 jobs gain fall far short of the 205,000 jobs forecast, it is not the only number that portends a job market about which CNNMoney believes: “suddenly looks a lot weaker than economists had thought.” USA Today points out: “For the year, employers added 2.18 million jobs, slightly fewer than 2012’s total of 2.19 million.” It adds: “Payroll growth was weak across the board, with education and health services, a reliable source of job growth even through the recession, adding no jobs.”
The NYT coverage of the report opens: “Just when it seemed as if the economy was finally accelerating, the latest employment figures once again confounded expectation of better days ahead.” Nelson D. Schwartz states: “The one apparent bright spot in Friday’s report—a sharp drop in the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent from 7 percent—was tarnished because it largely resulted from people exiting the work force rather than because they landed jobs. The work force shrank by 347,000 in December, reversing a big gain from November, and returning the proportion of Americans in the labor force to its October level of 62.8 percent, the lowest in 35 years.” He points out: “Areas of the economy that had been healthy for most of 2013 reversed course as the year drew to a close, significantly cutting into overall job creation.” Schwartz concludes: “Employment is still about two million below where it was when the recession started.”