September hiring was stronger than anticipated, with employers adding 103,000 jobs as reported by the Labor Department. Additionally, July and August were both revised higher to show an additional gain of 99,000 jobs. These figures were welcome news, particularly since they go against the concerns that the economy was regressing back into a recession. Despite these gains, however, the numbers are still weak; the economy has only recovered about 2.1 million of the 8.6 million jobs lost since the recession began.
“It’s hard to get too excited even about the positive news,” said Tig Gilliam, president of the North American unit of job placement firm Adecco.
The unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.1%, and economists expect relatively modest hiring for the rest of the year. 2012 is expected to bring a slight pickup, with unemployment being brought down to 8.6%. While these estimates are positive, the fact remains that the economic recovery is moving at a slow pace. Termed “the barbecue recovery” by CNNMoney reporter Paul La Monica because of the recovery’s “low and slow” pace, Americans still are having a difficult time finding work, with the average time that the unemployed have been without work hitting a record 40.5 weeks last month.
September’s increase in hiring suggests a cautious movement towards lowering the unemployment rate, but economists are not expecting any dramatic improvement for some time. “Hopeful means not horrible,” said Bill Seyfried, professor of economics at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. “We’ve lowered our expectations. The good news is simply that we’re not losing jobs.”
When it comes to the economic recovery, “not losing jobs” is one of the signs of slow improvement economists are basing their estimates on. However, true “recovery” is not slated to appear within the upcoming year; as La Monica writes, “the only real solution for this economic malaise is time.” Alongside the perspectives of other economists, La Monica’s stance rings true.
“Growth is elusive,” said Cam Albright, director of economic research with Wilmington Trust in Wilmington, Del. “We are still dealing with the residual effects of the financial crisis. That will stay with us for a while.”