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Splendid, Excellent, Salubrious, Salutary, Healthy, Great Jobs Numbers



(p. A16) The real question in analyzing the May jobs numbers released Friday [June 1, 2018] is whether there are enough synonyms for "good" in an online thesaurus to describe them adequately.

So, for example, "splendid" and "excellent" fit the bill. Those are the kinds of terms that are appropriate when the United States economy adds 223,000 jobs in a month, despite being nine years into an expansion, and when the unemployment rate falls to 3.8 percent, a new 18-year low.

"Salubrious," "salutary" and "healthy" work as words to describe the 0.3 percent rise in average hourly earnings, which are up 2.7 percent over the last year -- a nice improvement but also not the kind of sharp increase that might lead the Federal Reserve to rethink its cautious path of interest rate increases.

And a broader definition of unemployment, which includes people who have given up looking for a job out of frustration, fell to 7.6 percent. The jobless rate for African-Americans fell to 5.9 percent, the lowest on record, which we would count as "great."

If anything, some of the thesaurus offerings don't really do these numbers justice.


. . .


It isn't perfect -- wage growth remains unexceptional despite its growth spurt in May, and the ratio of prime-age adults working remains below its historical levels.

But it has been a strikingly durable and steady expansion, which is what the nation needed after the scars of the 2008 recession. And that's just plain "good."



For the full story, see:

Neil Irwin. "How Good? Words Fail Us." The New York Times (Saturday, June 2, 2018: A16.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 1, 2018, and has the title "We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are." The online version says the print version appeared on May 6 on p. A17 of the New York Edition. My print version, as usual, was the National Edition.)






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