Looks like those green shoots of economic recovery remain rooted in hope more than reality. The December jobs report is out and, to the surprise of no one who's actually dealing with the shrinking job market, we lost yet another 85,000 jobs last month. Hopeful forecasters had grasped at the slowed rate of decline in November and predicted we'd lose fewer than 10,000 jobs over the holiday season. But we can toss that one in the trash bin alongside predictions that foreclosures would stop and credit would flow if we just gave big banks enough money.
The White House has rightly noted that 85,000 jobs lost is nothing like the nearly 700,000-a-month we averaged in the first quarter of 2009. "As the President has said for a year, the road to recovery will not be a straight line," White House Council of Economic Advisors Chair Christina Romer stressed in a statement. "Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative."
But Romer also joined the undaunted soothsayers of recovery in pointing out that the unemployment rate held steady at 10 percent in December. "Compared with the unexpectedly good report for November, December's job loss is a slight setback," Romer insisted.