Jobs Situation Deteriorates in February
There is essentially no difference between the unemployment rate now and the one at this time a year ago; January's rate, in contrast, showed a 1.1-percentage-point year-over-year improvement. This suggests that the real U.S. jobs situation worsened in February. That is, jobs are relatively less available now than in January.
In the broader underemployment picture, the situation is much the same. January's year-over-year improvement of 1.0 points became -0.2 points in February. In turn, this suggests job market conditions in terms of underemployment also worsened during February.
This deterioration in the jobs situation combined with surging gas prices, budget battles at the federal and state level, and declines on Wall Street tend to explain the recent plunge Gallup recorded in consumer confidence. They also align with the continued "new normal" spending patterns of early 2011. Although Gallup's Job Creation Index has improved over the past year and showed modest improvement in February, the improvement has not been significant enough to positively affect underemployment and unemployment.
Warren Buffet said Wednesday on CNBC that the U.S. unemployment rate should be in the low 7% range by late 2012. If that is going to be the case, the job creation environment must change dramatically from what it is today.