Economic Glimmers of Light

by: Felix Salmon

What does it mean when employment and unemployment both move in the same direction? It might be an error in one of the two pretty fuzzy datasets, or it could be, as Agnes says this morning, a real turning point. That’s certainly what the bond market seems to think.

My feeling is that it’s far too early to say that unemployment has stopped rising, and that clearly nobody believes employment has stopped falling. We’re moving to a world where a smaller workforce works a shorter workweek, and that bodes ill for any kind of strong sustainable growth unless and until we see a serious and improbable turnaround in the jobs situation.

All the same, on such a happy day it would be churlish not to take some joy from today’s figures. The most vertiginous part of the economic plunge is clearly over, and there’s some real hope for (modest and painful) economic recovery going forwards; there’s actually a very good chance that the next few GDP figures will be positive. That’s something to celebrate a little.