Job Losses Moderate. Is This An “Inflection Point?”

May 8, 2009
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

The job loss numbers released this morning, as deep as they are, nevertheless support the growing sense among economists and the public that the economy may be in the early stages of a recovery.

“This looks very much like an inflection point,” says Stephen Stanley, chief economist for RBS Securities, who was quoted by Marketwatch this morning. “And the corroborating evidence … all suggest that the pace of layoffs is finally beginning to abate.”

Nevertheless, the 539,000 jobs lost during April pushed the unemployment rate nationally to 8.9 percent. It could have been even higher, but for government hiring in anticipation of the 2010 census.

“It is a sobering toll,” said President Barack Obama, cautioning that, “We should expect further job losses in the months to come.” Still, “The gears of our economic engine do appear to be slowly turning once again,” the President said. “Step by step, we’re beginning to make progress.”

The American people apparently sensed that too. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence Index for April took its biggest jump up in more than year, rising from 26.9 to 39.2. The 5,000 households that were surveyed also showed more optimism about improving business conditions. Those expecting that jobs will continue to decline over the next several months decreased from 41.6 percent to 33.6 percent, while those expecting more jobs increased to 13.9 percent from 7.3 percent.

That confidence was supported by a slight rise in the Monster Index. Though the change is still far below where it was a year ago and not even as high as in February, the Index found that eight of the nine regions in the U.S. had increases. Leisure and hospitality and some increases in banking and finance were the primary drivers to the Monster Index improvement, suggesting that seasonal hiring is probably playing a role in moderating the job losses.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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