The US employment situation still indicates a lackluster recovery

8 Mar 2014 by Jim Fickett.

Employment data, the most fundamental of all economic data, indicate a continuing US recovery. However they also indicate one of the slowest growth rates of any recovery on record, and no sign of accelerating growth.

The number of jobs (non-farm payrolls) was up 1.6% year-over-year in February – measurably above the neutral rate of 1.0%, where job growth is keeping up with population growth. However it is discouraging that the year-over-year change remains (1) very low by the standards of most historical recoveries, and (2) still below the seven-year high of 1.9% in February of 2012.

The year-over-year change in initial unemployment claims, which typically leads changes in non-farm payrolls by about 5 months, does not suggest any improvement in job growth.

The unemployment rate has steadily improved since the crisis, but still remains above the peak level of the previous economic cycle.