March, 2005 Economic News Looks Good

Yesterday all the focus was on the Italian journalist who was wounded (and her protection agent was killed) when the engine block was shot out of their car. However, some good news has come down the pike.

The Labor Department reported Friday that U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by 262,000 last month after a downwardly revised 132,000-job increase in January. But December's payroll reading was marked up to an increase of 155,000 jobs from the earlier 133,000 jobs, leaving a net gain of 8,000 jobs for the December-January period.

Also, more people started looking for jobs:

The unemployment rate rose to 5.4% in February, up from January's 5.2%. The unemployment rate is calculated using a separate statistical survey from the payroll figures. The household survey from which the jobless rate is drawn showed a 97,000-job drop in employment at the same time that the civilian labor force grew by roughly 153,000.

The market had a great day yesterday with the Dow Jones index rising almost a full percent, and NASDAQ coming up six tenths of a percent. I would like to think it was responding to good news about employment (and the relative stability of inflation) rather than celebrating the return of Martha Stewart.

So what bad news balances this out? Gas prices are definitely on the rise. Oil has made it to $52 a barrel now, and could run up as high as $60 in a repeat of last year's spike. This one hits close to home for me, since I have a 38 mile commute. (It takes a long commute to get fifteen acres to yourself without having to amass a fortune first.)

Josh Poulson

Posted Saturday, Mar 5 2005 07:47 AM

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