Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Beltway Fantasy Land in Operation

It is almost impossible for me to freshly describe the ongoing disconnect between what we see and hear coming out of the mouths of people in and around the Beltway Village and the facts on the ground for the rest of the country. I won't say that they must be on drugs because I've used drugs and I never was as far away from reality as the Beltway Village Idiots Pundits, Politicians, and Courtiers. They just live inside a fantasy bubble. It might be acceptable if the decisions they make each day didn't have such negative consequences for the rest of us.

The Initial Unemployment Claims report for last week came out today (Thursday April 28), and guess what? It surprised the economists. From Reuters:

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000, up from a slightly upwardly revised 404,000 the preceding week, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting claims to slip to 392,000 from the previously reported 403,000.
Of course, usually the surprise is the claims didn't fall as much as expected but today the claims went in the totally opposite direction than the predictions. Yet some of them refuse to give up their pre-conceived notions as AP quotes a Deutsche Bank economist that it is just "technical factors."

Well, those "technical factors" include the US economy growing at 1.8% for the first quarter of the year. From the NY Times:
American economic expansion slowed to a crawl in the first quarter, but economists are hopeful that the setback will be temporary. Total output grew at an annual rate of 1.8 percent from January through March, the Commerce Department said Thursday, after expanding at a 3.1 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2010.

When the year began, economists expected a more robust growth rate of about 4 percent, only to be barraged by bad report after bad report. Turmoil in the Middle East led to higher oil prices, which had already been climbing because of increased demand in emerging markets like China. Housing sales dropped sharply. Winter blizzards closed businesses and delayed construction, causing investments in nonresidential structures like office buildings to fall 21.7 percent from the previous quarter. Imports, which are subtracted from gross domestic product, surged. Military spending sank.
There are all sorts of ready-made excuses for the economists as to why the slow growth, however there were two other stories in the news today that tell me far more about where the economy is today than any of the economic predictions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Deficit Hawk Drums Drown Out Cries of Jobless

After seeing yesterday's opinion piece at CNN from David Frum (See this blog post), I wasn't quite as surprised to see another opinion piece today on the lack of jobs. Of course, today's (Tuesday, April 26) from Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post probably won't get much play because Robinson tends to be liberal and we all know liberals aren't considered Very Serious People, so can easily be ignored. Nevertheless, Robinson does have a platform at the Washington Post, so he might get read and even acknowledged as having some right behind his words:

What is it about the word “jobs” that our nation’s leaders fail to understand? How has the most painful economic crisis in decades somehow escaped their notice? Why do they ignore the issues that Americans care most desperately about?

Listening to the debate in Washington, you’d think the nation was absorbed by the compelling saga of deficit reduction. You’d get the impression that in households across America, parents put their children to bed and then stay up half the night sifting through piles of think-tank reports on the kitchen table, trying to calculate whether there will be enough in the Social Security trust fund to pay benefits beyond 2037.

And you’d be wrong. Those parents are looking at a pile of bills on the kitchen table, trying to decide which ones have to be paid now and which can slide. The question isn’t how to manage health care or retirement costs two decades from now. It’s how the family can make it to the end of the month.
Unfortunately, Mr. Robinson will most likely continue to be drowned out by the drumbeat of the deficit hawks. Looking through the various news sites today, I found a couple of articles promoting deficit hawkery though in a rather subtle way. First up is this from USA Today:

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Unusual Source Speaks the Truth

Today (Monday, April 25) CNN has an opinion piece from former George W. Bush staffer David Frum that shocked me, and not in a Capt Renault kind of way.

Technically speaking, the U.S. economy is recovering right now. GDP growth has been positive since the summer of 2009. Employment is growing. If you like, you can say the recession is over.

But don't say it too loud. With 13.5 million people out of work -- 6.1 million out of work for 27 weeks or more -- the odds are high that one of them may hear and take offense.

The recovery is weak, and job creation is slow. Everybody knows that. But here's something that we don't know, or anyway don't think about enough: Isn't it weird that in this dismal economic situation, neither of the two great U.S. political parties is offering a plan to do anything about the job situation?
Frum goes on to note that the Republicans at least have a "plan" (Rep Paul Ryan's "budget"), even though the "plan" does nothing to help the unemployed, nor does it actually do anything on the budget. He also notes that the Democratic "plan" consists primarily of blasting the Ryan plan.
The administration does however have a political plan: Blast the Ryan plan. Since the Ryan plan is highly politically vulnerable, the blasting will likely hurt the GOP and help President Obama. The blasting will not, however, do much for the unemployed. But then we've all sort of given up on them, haven't we?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Washington Post Notices It Is a McJobs Recovery

In today's (Sunday, April 24) Washington Post, Annie Lowrey mentions that maybe the economy might just not be in such great shape if the best jobs news is McDonald's trumpeting their McJobs Fair this past Tuesday where they were looking to hire 50k workers in one day. For what it's worth, I'm fairly certain that McDonalds goes through a hiring exercise of this nature most every spring; they just consolidated it all to one day this year and apparently received the hoped for public relations splash.

I actually took a look at the McJobs Fair situation almost three weeks ago when the news first came out of the "big" hiring push by Mickey Ds, so it's nice of the Post and Ms Lowrey to catch up to the blogosphere. Yet for every point Ms Lowrey gets correct, she still winds up missing the point in the end.

Indeed, the McHiringSpree raises the question: What kind of jobs has the recovery ginned up? The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a host of month-by-month information on who is working where, for how much and for how long. The data show that a few industries are at or above their level of employment before the recession. The federal workforce is slightly bigger, once you factor out job losses at the Postal Service and ignore Census hiring. Employment is up in some niches, like computer systems design. And health care remains the nation’s strongest growth industry, with tons of new jobs for workers like home health aides and physicians’ office workers.


Despite the gains, though, it all adds up to a fairly bleak picture: The jobs we’re adding, for the most part, aren’t great ones. The National Employment Law Project took a closer look at employment and jobs-growth data in February. It says that just 14 percent of recent job growth comes from high-wage industries. About half comes from low-wage industries. Restaurants and food services businesses, “especially” fast-food outlets, made up 7 percent. The picture contributes to a larger story: The country has produced far too few stable, middle-income jobs over the past 20 years, not just the past three.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Life In An Alternative Universe

I am becoming more and more convinced that there are multiple parallel universes occupying life on this one planet we call Earth. It is seemingly the only even remotely rational explanation for the disconnect between the views of most people in the United States (and the World) versus the views of the Beltway Villagers, Media Courtiers, and the excessively affluent.

Today's (Friday, Arpil 22) NY Times presented the results of a poll of the "Nation's Mood":

Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama’s first two months in office, when the country was still officially ensnared in the Great Recession, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Amid rising gas prices, stubborn unemployment and a cacophonous debate in Washington over the federal government’s ability to meet its future obligations, the poll presents stark evidence that the slow, if unsteady, gains in public confidence earlier this year that a recovery was under way are now all but gone.

Capturing what appears to be an abrupt change in attitude, the survey shows that the number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse has jumped 13 percentage points in just one month. Though there have been encouraging signs of renewed growth since last fall, many economists are having second thoughts, warning that the pace of expansion might not be fast enough to create significant numbers of new jobs.

So what are the Media Courtiers reporting on? The Washington Post had this report on the "Biden deficit task force":

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Giving Away the Future

I struggle sometimes to keep coming up with fresh ways to describe what I see happening to the US economy. I try to stay on top of economics news and try to make some semblance of the conflicting reports presented, the PR spin and more spin.

Today's (Thursday, April 21) Initial Unemployment Claims report for last week is out and once again, the economists have their rose colored glasses on:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- First-time filings for unemployment claims declined in the most recent week, but were above the key 400,000 level for the second straight week, according to a government report issued Thursday.

There were 403,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended April 16, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was down 13,000 from the previous week's revised 416,000.
Please note that the 416K from last week was an upward revision from the initial report of 412K.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good Jobs Would Help Solve the "Deficit Problems."

The past couple of days there have been all sorts of stories in the news about "OMG! The budget deficit!!11!!1! Whatever shall we do?" From the news that Standard & Poor is threatening forecasting a need to "downgrade" long term US debt to Sen Dick Durbin whining about Bernie Sanders introducing a resolution vowing that Social Security should not be cut to Treasury Secretary Geithner declaring that an "agreement is near" for long term deficit reduction, the Beltway Villagers are all in a tizzy.

Earth to the Villagers - decent paying jobs with good benefits would go a long way to resolving much of the "crisis" that has so many of you twisted in knots. And that is not to be defined as McDonald's level jobs or other primarily minimum wage service jobs. I'm talking here about jobs that can allow a family to do more than survive and jobs where the wage earner can pay a rent or mortgage, purchase new clothing, maybe even buy a new car. If the jobs actually have benefits rather than being Perma-Temp, all the better.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Will the Gang of Six Receive the Gang of Four Treatment?

I won't say that great minds think alike but I had to laugh when I saw a link to this from HuffPo's Ann Stark. Beyond Teddy Partridge's Firedoglake post from Sunday night "Anti-gang Enforcement Needed On Capital Hill," Ms Stark's tweet about the Gang of Four rather crystalized for me some thoughts about how easily the Beltway Village Idiots Pundits fall into their usage of short hand terms without really any apparent understanding of the genesis of those terms. Whether it is the "Gang of Fourteen" or either of the two "Gang of Six" in the US Senate, I wonder if they want to remind people of the fate of the "Gang of Four."

From Time Magazine Gang of Four On Trial:

After many delays, the "evildoers "finally enter the dock

The long parade of limousines and buses knifed through Peking's wintry smog just before 3 p.m. As police and soldiers kept away curious bystanders, sober-faced men and women emerged from the cars, strode through the gates of the public security compound at No. 1 Zhengyi (Justice) Road near Tian'anmen Square and entered a large, brightly lighted courtroom. After taking their seats, the 35 judges and 880 "representatives of the masses" looked on impassively as the ten defendants were led into the court by bailiffs to hear the charges against them.

Thus began the long-awaited trial of China's notorious Gang of Four and six other high-ranking "evildoers." The carefully orchestrated courtroom drama, which is expected to last for several weeks, is the most important show trial to take place in the 31 years that the Communist Party has ruled China. The most celebrated defendant is Jiang Qing, 67, the widow of Mao Tse-tung, who, along with her allies in the Gang of Four,* led Mao's reckless and violent Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. They were arrested four years ago, shortly after Mao's death in 1976. Also on trial are a group of senior military officials who allegedly plotted with the late Defense Minister Lin Biao to assassinate Mao in 1971 and seize supreme power for themselves.

Now I am not advocating that the current "Gang of Six" from the US Senate be subjected to a "show trial" for their zeal in dismantling the social safety net under the guise of "saving" it. But when these men have to next face the voters, they probably will not want to highlight their participation in cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, all while preserving tax cuts for the top of the income chain.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Budget Cuts Equal Job Cuts

As we see more and more information about the Republican plans for "austerity" and the budget cuts, we see more and more that all they are offering is the same one-trick pony that they have proposed to solve economic problems since the days of St Ronnie of Raygunz.

Now why would I put the term "austerity" in quotes? Because every time the Republicans make a proposal to cut spending, they also demand a tax cut. From Reuters:

(Reuters) - Republicans in the House of Representatives united on Friday behind a 2012 budget plan slashing trillions of dollars in government spending while cutting taxes -- two achievements conservatives say are necessary ingredients for a deal to raise the U.S. debt limit.
In fact, we have quite abundant objective, verifiable evidence from the last thirty years that cutting taxes does not increase revenues nor does cutting taxes cause businesses to create jobs. Yet for some strange reason, the people who continually propose cutting taxes because "it increases revenues and creates jobs" are considered "very serious people" by the Beltway Village Idiots Pundits. However, if tax cuts created jobs and increased government revenues, the past decade would have been a decade with some of the greatest job growth in the history of the US as well as shown a continued decrease to the national debt instead of the exact opposite.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hopelessness, Despair, Suicide

I don't know if suicides are more in the news lately or if I'm just noticing them more due to paying closer attention to the various news sources and possible causes. In March I wrote this post asking (rhetorically) "How Many Suicides Will There Be?" after seeing an article at the LA Times on a Costa Mesa, CA city employee who had committed suicide after receiving a lay-off notice.

Today's (Friday, April 15) NY Times has an article on a study linking suicides to the overall economy. From the article:

The suicide rate increased 3 percent in the 2001 recession and has generally ridden the tide of the economy since the Great Depression, rising in bad times and falling in good ones, according to a comprehensive government analysis released Thursday.

Experts said the new study may help clarify a long-clouded relationship between suicide and economic trends.


In the study, which appears in The American Journal of Public Health, researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined suicide rates per 100,000 Americans for every year from 1928 to 2007.


To investigate the effect of business cycles, the researchers calculated the average rate during periods when the economy contracted and compared it with the average during the years leading to downturns. The sharpest increase occurred at the start of the Great Depression, when rates jumped 23 percent — to 22.1 in 1932, from 18.0 in 1928. The study found smaller bumps during the oil crisis of the early 1970s and the double-dip recession of the early 1980s, among other economic troughs.
Peterr has had a couple of posts at Firedoglake in the last two years on this topic as well, here and here. From Peterr's first post:
When otherwise mentally healthy people get laid off, see their savings spiraling down the tubes, have banks threatening to repossess their homes, or get otherwise personally caught up in our national economic crises, they are miserable while trying to figure out what to do in response and how to come to terms with their new reality. When people with underlying mental health issues (clinical depression, PTSD, substance abuse, etc.) find themselves in these circumstances, however, it becomes exponentially harder for them to cope with the exterior economic stresses.
Hopelessness and despair due to the economic environment.

Peterr's second post was more in line with this post from Jim White today on the suicide of Clay Hunt of the IAVA (Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America). From Peterr's second post:
Desperate times and desperate circumstances lead desperate people to take their own lives. Suicide has many causes, and it seems that each victim has his or her own mix of issues and pressures that led them to kill themselves. Whatever the specifics of each case are, the two aftereffects of suicide are the same in every case: someone is dead, and the lives of their family and friends and neighbors are twisted with grief and often guilt.
From Jim White's post:
So the Pentagon knows that returning vets face a high suicide risk and yet the Pentagon refuses to include these deaths among the official suicide figures. This means, of course, that the suicide figures actually are even much higher than the Pentagon admits.
As a veteran of the USAF, I managed to avoid serving during a time of "hot war" but I had many friends from my home town, high school, and college who served during Vietnam. I think we are seeing a very similar effect of the "disposable people" with the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. We send men and women to fight in a foreign land and when they return it seems to become more of "Yeah, but what have you done for us lately?"

Whether it is due to economic hopelessness and despair or post traumatic stress disorder hopelessness and despair from serving in war, we are seeing too many suicides from people who seem to feel the world has left them with no other option.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has lots of helpful information for those who are concerned about this issue, including warning signs of suicide and knowing how to respond to them.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It’s free, confidential, and they’ve got a national network of 130 crisis centers to help. If that’s too much to remember, just call 911.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Do We Want? Jobs! When Do We Want Them? Now!

Today's Initial Unemployment Claims report for last week is out and the intial claims have jumped back up over 400k. Via Reuters:

A second report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 412,000, well above economists' expectations for a fall to 380,000.

The four-week moving average of unemployment claims -- a better measure of underlying trends - climbed 5,500 to 395,750.

The first report the article covers is the Producer Price Index, defined here. Also from the linked Reuters article:
The Labor Department said on Thursday its seasonally adjusted index for prices paid at the farm and factory gate -- excluding volatile food and energy costs -- rose 0.3 percent after gaining 0.2 percent in February. Economists had expected core PPI to rise 0.2 percent in March.

David Dayen at FDL News this morning says this:
But the bad economy only makes this worse. There’s a ton of idle capacity in the economy, a demand shortfall that forces millions of potentially productive workers to the sidelines. USAT estimates 27 MILLION non-working adults; that’s inexcusable. And they will not be helped by contractionary fiscal policy that lowers demand even further.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True...

I assume that by now, many folks are aware of the hoax press release purportedly from GE declaring that they were going to be ("press release" from BusinessInsider):

...gifting its entire 2010 tax refund, worth $3.2 Billion, to the US Treasury on April 18, Tax Day, and will furthermore adopt a host of new policies that secure its position as a leader in corporate social responsibility.
If you are unaware of the source of the $3.2 Billion figure, this NY Times story from March explains things.

Now, as soon as I saw this "press release" I started looking for the "April Fools" tag. For me, the tells were:
Immelt acknowledged no wrongdoing. “All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal,” Immelt noted. “But Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance.


In tandem with the gift, the company is also announcing a host of new policies to restore public faith in the GE brand, including a commitment to keep American jobs in America, and to create one U.S. job for each new job created abroad.
Other folks (like emptywheel) who saw it had their own tells of course but those two really jumped out at me. Earlier this month (April 4) the NY Times Economix blog had a post on Tax Havens...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

And Still We Ask: Where Are the Jobs?

It has been almost a year now since I wrote my first little post here in my own corner of the toobz. In my first few posts (here, here, here, and here), I concentrated primarily on discussing my professional skills as well as the holes in my skill set. I also tried to discuss the perspective of being one of the long term under-employed and how it can have a day-to-day impact on the individual.

Since those first few posts, I have concentrated more on the overall economic news each week and month, moving away from the strict concentration on my own situation. After all, I do recognize that no matter how wonderful an individual and how very interesting I may be, my story alone is not going to make much of a dent in the fog that surrounds the Beltway and the word clouds spouted by the Village Idiots Pundits. The reality is, while the "official" unemployment rate is at 8.8%, the rate for the un and underemployed is showing as 15.7% (U3 and U6 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and I am convinced that both of these numbers are artificially low.

What I have also attempted to do is point out the holes in the cheerleading. One of the items I have gotten used to tracking is the Initial Unemployment Claims filed each week that is usually released on Thursdays for the previous week. This past week (from Reuters) showed:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jamie Dimon's Move Cost How Much?

Yesterday morning (Friday, April 8), I was doing my regular surfing of news sites, after once again not finding any jobs in my daily job search when I came across this story from Reuters on the pay that JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon received for 2010. The thing that caught my eye most of all however was not the $20.8M in total compensation. Nor was it the $5M cash bonus on top of the $1M cash salary for the year. No, the items that caught my eye were at the bottom of the article on the "perks" Dimon received:

His 2010 compensation also included $579,624 worth of perks, including $421,458 of "moving expenses," $95,293 to use company aircraft and $45,730 for personal automobile use. Most of the rest went toward home security.

Like many Americans who have had trouble selling their homes, Dimon did too. The moving expenses relate to the sale in 2010 of Dimon's Chicago-area home, in which he had lived while heading Bank One Corp that was sold to JPMorgan in 2004.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Unions, Public or Private, Are Not the Problem

Over the last couple of months, we've seen an unprecedented attack on public sector unions across the nation. According to this article from the LA Times via the Sacramento Bee, nearly half of the states are in varying stages of attacking public and private sector unions.

Nearly half of the states are considering legislation to limit public employees' collective bargaining rights. In New Hampshire, the House last week approved a measure that one union leader assailed as "Wisconsin on steroids."

But it's not just budgetary concerns driving Republican officeholders to take on unions, traditionally a strong Democratic ally.

In Maine, the newly elected Republican governor ordered the removal of a mural depicting the state's labor history from a state building because, his spokeswoman said, it portrayed a one-sided message supporting organized labor.

A number of states are considering bills that would limit unions' ability to collect dues from public employees. The Florida House approved a bill to ban dues deductions from government paychecks and require unions to obtain members' permission before using dues for political activity. Similar legislation is under consideration in Kansas. Other bills would eliminate a requirement that workers covered by union contracts pay union dues or fees.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hey! McDonalds Is Hiring!

Have you seen the news? McDonald's is set to hire 50,000 new workers in one day (April 19). From Reuters:

(Reuters) - Fast-food chain McDonald's Corp announced a one-day spring hiring spree aimed at fighting the use of the term "McJob" as shorthand for describing low-wage, dead-end work.

The global restaurant chain said it plans to hire as many as 50,000 new U.S. employees -- ranging from restaurant crew to managers -- on April 19. The move would increase the hamburger company's U.S. workforce by 7.7 percent to 700,000, but such hiring is typical in the lead up to the busy summer months.
Sounds great, right? Time to combat the image of the "McJobs" and show how those McDonald's jobs can help folks reach that middle class dream.

Uh, not so fast there Bucky. From a bit further down in the linked article:
She added that McDonald's hourly employees typically make more than minimum wage, often more than $8 per hour.


McDonald's said it and its franchisees would be spending an extra $518 million on wages and salaries for the 50,000 new workers it plans to hire.
Now, if we do a bit of basic mathematics and divide $518M by 50,000 we have a whopping figure of $10,360, which isn't even five dollars an hour for a forty hour week, 52 week year. So much for countering the "McJobs" image there. And since McDonald's was one of the firms receiving a waiver from the HHS on the Health Care Reform back in October, any wagers on how many of these new employees would be receiving any health care benefits upon employment? No, I didn't think so.

Of course, CNN went full cheerleader on the news:
This announcement from McDonald's is just the latest sign of an improving job market. On Friday, the U.S. government announced a gain of 216,000 jobs in March, pushing the unemployment rate down to 8.8%, its lowest level in two years.
If we could just find a reasonable medium between the McJobs universe (or WalMart World if you will) and the world where we pay $1M per year for each soldier on the ground in Irak and Afghanistan. The world where taxes are cut for businesses (via the NY Times) and taxes are cut for the well-to-do (while maybe not millionaires, they are still in better financial position than the vast majority of the country - also via the NY Times) all while members of Congress propose cutting federal services $4 trillion over the next ten years. The same members of Congress that see nothing wrong with shutting down government services but continuing pay for themselves.

Snark fails.

And because I can:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Losing Jobs for a Good Reason

As many folks are aware, I am one of the long term un/underemployed. I have not worked in my chosen career field of Software Quality Assurance and Testing in nearly seven years. I know it sounds counter intuitive, especially after all my rants over the past year on the subject of jobs and employment, but there are positive reasons for folks to lose their jobs.

There have been a couple of NY Times articles this weekend that have covered a few of these situations. First up is this article from yesterday (Saturday, April 2) on nonprofits "going out of business" due to achieving the desired results:

So far, the number of organizations opting to go out of business for mission-related reasons is too small to call a trend. It is still far more common for a nonprofit to close its doors because of financial pressure, which is increasing as governments continue to pare their budgets and donors maintain tight grips on their giving.

Still, the novelty of organizations going out of business once their work is done has attracted attention.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a widespread phenomenon because there are a lot of groups taking on problems like alcoholism and domestic violence that aren’t problems that go away,” said Jan Masaoka, editor in chief of Blue Avocado, a blog for nonprofits. “But I do see that in some cases there is an opportunity for organizations to wind down gracefully and with their job done.”


What will happen to Malaria No More’s employees is perhaps Mr. Case’s biggest concern.

But Martin Edlund, who has worked for the organization since its founding in 2006, said that he was more excited about the significance of its ending. “We talk around here about malaria being the first great humanitarian success story of the 21st century, and I comfort myself at night knowing that if I have that accomplishment on my résumé, I’m not going to have any trouble finding another job,” he said.

Friday, April 1, 2011

More Jobs Yet Falling Further Behind

I am afraid I may be starting to think like an economist. Now why would I be afraid I'm becoming an economist? Because I was surprised when the March Jobs Report came out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and showed 216K new jobs for March, an increase of 15K even over the ADP report from Wednesday. From Reuters:

(Reuters) - U.S. employment recorded a second straight month of solid gains in March and the jobless rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent, underscoring a decisive shift in the labor market that should help to underpin the economic recovery.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 216,000 last month, the largest increase since May, the Labor Department said on Friday. The gain built on the 194,000 new positions added in February.
David Dayen at Firedoglake News has done his standard excellent job of dissecting this report. And as he does, he manages to puncture the coming cheereladers, even before they get started:
And where did these new jobs come from? About 1/2 of the total came in the service sector. 29,000 hires came from temp work. Professional and technical services increased by about 35,000, and manufacturing and mining increased slightly. Health care was also a continued strong sector.

The public sector continues to be a drag on growth. It edged downward again, as $10 billion in budget cuts for the year, enacted in two stopgap spending bills, took effect. Since the peak in September 2008 (notice the time frame), public sector jobs have decreased by 416,000. And with expected cuts coming at the state and federal level, more layoffs are on the way.
I would like to reinforce a couple of his points here. Out of 216K new jobs, nearly half are in the services sector. 29K are in temp work. It is the expected cuts in public sector jobs at all levels that had me anticipating a far lower number of new jobs for March. The complete BLS News Release is here.