Earlier today, there was a rare bit of good economic news with the announcement that job creation broke out in February as the United States’ unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent. This morning, however, Mr. Bloomberg urged the public to ignore the widely discussed unemployment number and instead look at the raw job total nationwide–a net increase of 246,000 new jobs last month.
“The unemployment number is relatively meaningless,” Mr. Bloomberg said during his weekly interview with John Gambling. “It is the number of people who have jobs–the number of jobs. I think the national economy is doing a little bit better. Not going down, it is going up a little bit better, [but] nowhere near fast enough to give jobs to a lot of the people who want them. And a lot of the people who have dropped out of the workforce [are] saying, ‘I’m never getting a job, I’m not going to even look.’ Then you don’t get counted. … That’s why the unemployment number is bad–is not really a good indicator.”
The mayor went on to use New York City’s unemployment rate–higher than the nation as a whole at 9.1 percent in January–as an example to press his case.
“In New York City, the unemployment number has gone up a little bit and it’s good because there’s a lot more people looking for jobs. We have a record number of people working,” he said. “People are getting jobs and then people come to New York City looking for jobs. … If you have more people looking for jobs, then it’s a good number to go up. If it’s fewer people looking for jobs and it goes up, it’s a bad thing. [But] that’s done by phone surveys and nobody really knows how accurate they are. The number of people actually working are real numbers. So that’s what you can judge.”