The Missing Context Of "500,000 Jobs Created Per Month"

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

The jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning showed that 115,000 jobs were created in April, and the unemployment rate dipped to 8.1 percent. Reacting to the report on Fox & Friends, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney called it "very, very disappointing" and said: "We should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created per month. This is way, way off from what should happen in a normal recovery."

Romney's comments were reported by ABC News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and others. In each instance, these outlets simply quoted Romney's target for job growth of 500,000-plus per month.

Some context is sorely needed here.

Since 1939, monthly job growth has exceeded 500,000 a grand total of sixteen times, according to BLS. It's happened only five times since the end of the Eisenhower administration: March 1978, April 1978, September 1983, September 1997, and May 2010.

To put that in perspective, monthly job growth that exceeds 500,000 happens with roughly the same frequency as perfect games in baseball, of which there have been 19 since 1900. (Not an exact comparison, of course, but it illustrates the infrequency.)

The vanishing rarity of such explosive job creation should have been mentioned when reporting Romney's call for sustained growth at that rate.

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hill, ABC News
FOX & Friends
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