Employment is up to around 200,000 jobs. This is a decent number, but nowhere near strong enough in order to get back to full employment on a reasonable time frame.
A few additional points:
1. The Employment-to-Population Ratio stayed the same at 58.4%. This ratio may be a better way of judging the recovery, as so many people have disappeared from the formal labor market. It has been relatively flat recently and is far from where it was at a few years ago. It is also a phenomenon for young people, so this is not just about labor markets sorting middle-aged workers into high and low productivity workers:
That low work participation rate for young workers speaks poorly for the long-term prospects of the American economy.
2. Women lost ~70,000 jobs in the past month even though overall employment was up ~200,000. This could be evidence that Bryce Covert’s womancession is going to be more of a phenomenon in 2011. Especially as government budget cuts come, which will likely balance out any private sector gains, if not overwhelm demand for private sector completely. As she says:
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, forty-five states and the District of Columbia are projecting shortfalls totaling $125 billion in fiscal year 2012, and many local governments have turned to severe job cuts for public workers to fill the hole. Since August of 2008, the public sector cut 426,000 jobs, with 154,000 of those in education. Governors across the country—Republicans and Democrats alike—are threatening that there will be many more. And even though women represent just over half of the public workforce, the NWLC found that they lost the majority of the jobs—a whopping 83.8 percent—during the so-called recovery.
3. It’s getting better even though it remains sluggish. We know from historical analysis that governments wait until growth has settled in to deal with budget issues. The economy is nowhere near strong enough to survive a round of deep short-term cuts, especially cuts from muscle.