A dismal June employment report shows that employers are adding nowhere near as many jobs as they normally do this long after a recession has ended.
Unemployment has climbed for three straight months and is now at 9.2 percent. There's no precedent, in data going back to 1948, for such a high rate two years into what economists say is a recovery.
The economy added just 18,000 jobs in June. That's a fraction of the 90,000 jobs economists had expected and a sliver of the 300,000 jobs needed each month to shrink unemployment significantly.
The excruciatingly slow growth is confounding economists, spooking consumers and dismaying job seekers. Friday's report forced analysts to re-examine their assumption that the economy would strengthen in the second half of 2011.
So what's going on???
One problem is that after slashing jobs during the Great Recession, employers are still reluctant to replace them. They've learned to squeeze more work and revenue out of reduced staffs. Productivity and corporate profits have soared. But companies don't want to add workers until they're confident that consumers are spending enough to support higher sales.Even the European angle:
Other factors are restraining hiring, too. More sophisticated software lets managers scrutinize changes in their businesses minute-by-minute. They can postpone hiring until they're certain they need more workers.
Employers have good reason to wait, says economist Ken Mayland at ClearView Economics. A political standoff over the federal debt limit threatens to send the U.S. government into default next month. That would send interest rates soaring and might tip the economy back into recession.
Even if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans agree to raise the borrowing limit, the deal will likely require deep cuts in government spending and possibly tax increases. Combined, those steps could slow the economy further.
Heightening the uncertainty are Europe's debt crisis and the possibility that China's efforts to tame inflation will slow its booming economy. Both factors could destabilize financial markets and reduce U.S. exports, one of the economy's few strengths.Via Instapundit which has a poll up asking when YOU think the recession will ended. I just said that's above my current paygrade :P