Smile, man. :)

President Obama on his way to Miami.

DAVID LEONHARDT

Understated Progress on Jobs?

The best part of this morning’s jobs report may be the hints that the government is understating actual job growth.

monthly estimate of employment changes is often too pessimistic in the early stages of a recovery (and too optimistic in the early stages of a downturn). The department tends to underestimate how many new businesses are starting as the economy picks up.

There’s no way to know whether that is happening now, but there are reasons to suspect it might be. The other main survey the department does is of households, rather than businesses. It has a smaller sample size and so usually is not as accurate as the survey of businesses. At turning points, though, the household survey can detect changes before the business survey does. As Floyd Norris has explained, the numbers from the business survey may well end up being revised later on — as more accurate data on start-ups flows in — and looking more like the sunnier household survey.

Today’s report clearly raises the odds that we’re in the middle of such a period now.

Average job growth over the past three months has been only 102,000, according to the survey of businesses. But it’s been 221,000 — significantly more than population growth — according to the survey of households. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from the household survey, has dropped sharply in the past few months in large part because of these job gains.

It’s particularly noteworthy that the Labor Department today revised upward the business survey’s estimated job growth for both December and January. That may mean more revisions are coming.

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Austan Goolsbee

Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 222,000 in February, marking 12 consecutive months of growth that has added 1.5 million jobs at private firms. The unemployment rate fell for the third straight month to 8.9 percent. The 0.9 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate over the past three months is the largest such decline since 1983, and it has been driven primarily by increased employment, rather than falling labor force participation.

Though unemployment remains elevated, we are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business tax incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for sustained growth and job creation. The steep decline in the unemployment rate and the overall trend of economic data in recent months has been encouraging, but there is still considerable work to do to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, but not at the expense of derailing progress in the job market, making the investments we need to educate our workers, investing in science, and building the infrastructure our companies need to succeed. 

In addition to the increases last month, the estimates of private sector job growth for December (now +167,000) and January (now +68,000) were revised up. Overall payroll employment rose by 192,000 last month. The sectors with the largest payroll employment growth were professional and business services (+47,000), education and health services (+40,000), manufacturing (+33,000), and construction (+33,000). State and local government experienced a large decline (-30,000), and has shed jobs in 14 of the past 16 months.

The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there will surely be bumps in the road ahead.  The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report. 

Economy added 192,000 jobs, unemployment down to 8.9%!

 Hi guys,

1. Today’s schedule:

9:30 am
The President and the Vice President receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:00 am
The President meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:45 am
The President meets with Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel
Oval Office
Closed Press

11:15 am
The President meets with Secretary of the Treasury Geithner
Oval Office
Closed Press

12:00 pm
The President departs the White House en route Andrews Air Force Base
South Lawn
Open Press
Pre-set 11:30AM – Final Gather 11:45AM – North Doors of the Palm Room

12:15 pm
The President departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Miami, Florida
Andrews Air Force Base
Travel Pool Coverage
Call Time 11:00AM – Virginia Gate, Andrews Air Force Base

2:30 PM
Dr Jill Biden delivers remarks at the Call to Duty ceremony for Airmen of the Delaware Air National Guard.

2:40 pm
The President arrives in Miami, Florida
Miami International Airport
Open Press

3:05 pm
The President visits a classroom with former Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary Duncan
Miami Central Senior High School
Travel Pool Coverage

4:00 pm
The President delivers remarks on winning the future in education
Miami Central Senior High School
Open Press

5:35 pm
The President delivers remarks at a DSCC fundraiser
Fontainebleau Resort
Travel Pool Coverage

7:30 pm
The President delivers remarks at a DSCC fundraiser
Private Residence
Print Pool

8:30 pm
The President departs Miami, Florida
Miami International Airport
Open Press

10:35 pm
The President arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
Andrews Air Force Base
Travel Pool Coverage

10:50 pm
The President arrives at the White House
South Lawn
Open Press

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2. Recovery!

Jobless rate is lowest since April 2009

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Job growth accelerated in February and the unemployment rate fell for the third straight month, the Labor Department said Friday. Total nonfarm payrolls increased by 192,000 in February. This was slightly lower than the 218,000 gain expected by Wall Street economists. The unemployment rate ticked lower to 8.9% in February from 9.0% in the previous month. Economists forecast the unemployment rate to rise to 9.1%. Job growth in December and January was revised higher by 58,000 jobs.

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3. Polls watch:

Pew Research: PBO at 51-39

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4. Krugman:

How to Kill a Recovery

The economic news has been better lately. New claims for unemployment insurance are down; business and consumer surveys suggest solid growth. We’re still near the bottom of a very deep hole, but at least we’re climbing.

It’s too bad that so many people, mainly on the political right, want to send us sliding right back down again.

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5. West Wing Week