At first glance, the December jobs report seems to be a step in the right direction. An unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, the lowest level in 19 months. And a president, happy to boast about another 103,000 jobs being created last month.
However, renowned economist Peter Morici points out two important caveats. For one, 260,000 Americans simply dropped out of the labor force in December. They are out of work, yet no longer counted as unemployed by the government. And secondly, 103,000 jobs is nowhere near the number of jobs we need to be adding each month. To bring unemployment down to 6 percent by 2013, businesses need to hire an average of 350,000 new workers each month.
Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who continues to defend his Quantitative Easing (aka money-printing) program, couldn't ignore the writing on the wall during a Senate hearing Friday morning. "If we continue at this pace", said Bernanke, "we are not going to see sustained declines to the unemployment rate."