Council of Economic Advisers Blog

  • Chairman Alan Krueger Discusses the Economy at the World Affairs Council of Charlotte

    At 12:45 ET on Wednesday, December 21, 2011, President Obama’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Alan B. Krueger delivered his first speech as Chairman at the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, in Charlotte, NC. 

    Dr. Krueger’s remarks were on “Finding Economic Certainty in an Uncertain World,” where he discussed the risks the US economy faces, the strengths of the US economy, and his belief that there is no amount of uncertainty that we cannot conquer by relying on the durable strengths of what is certain in America.

    Read Dr. Krueger's remarks here.

  • The Employment Situation in November

    Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is still not fast enough given the large job losses from the recession that began in December 2007.   

    Private sector payrolls increased by 140,000 in November and overall payroll employment rose by 120,000. The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent, the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009.  About half of the drop in unemployment in the household survey was due to a decline in the labor force (-315,000) and about half to employment growth (+278,000).  Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 21 straight months, for a total of 2.9 million jobs over that period.  Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put more Americans back to work.

     While the U.S. economy is healing, the world economy continues to be in a fragile state and all economies are linked through trade and finance.  In this environment, the President’s American Jobs Act is the right medicine to sustain and strengthen the recovery.  In particular, with 13.3 million Americans still unemployed, and 43 percent of them unemployed for 6 months or longer, it would be a setback for the economy and American families if Congress were to allow extended unemployment benefits to expire at the end of the year. The President’s proposal to extend and expand the payroll tax cut for workers and small businesses also would provide a substantial boost to economic growth and job creation. 

    Sectors with employment increases in November included retail trade (+50,000), professional and business services (+33,000), leisure and hospitality (+22,000), health care and social assistance (+19,000), and manufacturing (+2,000).  The temporary help services industry, which is often a leading indicator of future job growth, increased for the fifth month in a row, by 22,300.  Sectors with employment declines included government (-20,000) and construction (-12,000).  State and local governments lost 16,000 jobs and have shed 430,000 jobs since February 2010. 

    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.

    Chart November 2011 private sector job growth

     

  • The Employment Situation in October

    Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is not fast enough.

    Private sector payrolls increased by 104,000, and overall payroll employment rose by 80,000 in October. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 9.0 percent, a level that remains unacceptably high. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 20 straight months, for a total of 2.8 million jobs over that period. We need faster economic growth to put more Americans back to work. Today’s report provides further evidence for why it is so important that Congress pass the President’s American Jobs Act to put more money in the paychecks of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to keep teachers in the classroom; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while not adding to the deficit over ten years. The report underscores that one area that remains notably weak is the construction sector. That’s why it is disappointing that the Senate was not able to proceed to the infrastructure part of the American Jobs Act.

    Sectors with employment increases included professional and business services (+32,000), leisure and hospitality (+22,000), retail trade (+17,800), health care and social assistance (+16,300), and manufacturing (+5,000). Sectors with employment declines included government (-24,000) and construction (-20,000). State and local governments lost 22,000 jobs and have shed more than 430,000 jobs since February 2010.

    The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. There is no better example than August’s jobs figure, which was initially reported at zero and in the latest revision increased to 104,000. This illustrates why the Administration always stresses it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.

    20111104 Updated Jobs Chart

     
    Alan Krueger is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

  • Advance Estimate of GDP for the Third Quarter of 2011

    Today’s report shows that the economy posted the ninth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter of this year. The level of real GDP now exceeds its level at the business cycle peak in the fourth quarter of 2007. While the continued expansion is encouraging, faster growth clearly is needed to replace the jobs lost in the recent downturn and to reduce long-term unemployment.

    Notable strength in the third quarter included business investment, which grew 16.3 percent at an annual rate. Residential construction increased 2.4 percent at an annual rate, and was up 1.6 percent during the past four quarters, the first positive four-quarter percent change since 2006 except for a brief period when the home buyer tax credit was active. Positive contributions to real GDP growth included consumer spending (1.7 percentage point), fixed investment (1.6 percentage point), and net exports (0.2 percentage point).  Inventory investment subtracted 1.1 percentage point from real GDP growth.

    We are, nonetheless, at a fragile moment in the world economy, and cannot afford to do anything to undermine our economic recovery. That’s why the President continues to urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act without delay. The American Jobs Act includes measures that would accelerate the recovery, including extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, keeping teachers in the classroom and police and firefighters on the beat, and investing in our nation’s infrastructure to help put Americans back to work.  Independent economists say it could increase employment by up to 1.9 million, increase growth and lower the unemployment rate. This report also underscores the need to put in place a balanced approach to deficit reduction that phases in budget cuts, instills confidence, and allows us to live within our means without shortchanging future growth.

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  • The Employment Situation in September

    Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 137,000 and overall payroll employment rose by 103,000 in September. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent, a level that is unacceptably high. Despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds experienced throughout the year, the economy has added private sector jobs for 19 straight months, for a total of 2.6 million jobs over that period.

    Clearly, we need faster economic growth to put Americans back to work. Today’s report underscores the President’s call for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more money in the pockets of working and middle class families; to make it easier for small businesses to hire workers; to keep teachers in the classroom; to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure; and other measures that will help the economy grow while not adding to the deficit over ten years.

  • Income and Poverty in 2010: Why Congress Should Pass the American Jobs Act

    New data released today on income and poverty in 2010 underscore the need for Congress to pass the President’s American Jobs Act without delay. With the first full year of data following the deepest recession since the Great Depression now in, we see an unacceptably high poverty rate and families struggling to get by on less income.