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美国就业报告:光鲜面子难掩破烂里子

Nin-Hai Tseng 2011年08月11日

上周五公布的就业数据是一个可喜的好兆头,但谁又能保证,这不过是昙花一现?

    铺天盖地的坏消息让美国人惶惶不可终日,人们担心美国可能马上就要重新陷入经济衰退了。好在日前公布的美国就业市场月度报告终于让我们看到了一个好兆头(尽管并不明朗):或许事情并没有想象得那么糟糕。

    今年7月份,美国新增就业岗位117,000个,使失业率从6月份的9.2%小幅下降到9.1%。这是从4月份以来,单月职位增加最多的月份。远远超过6月份原先报道的,净增加18,000个工作岗位。

    这一变化肯定会使美国迅速陷入经济衰退的可能性降低,至少高盛投资公司(Goldman Sachs)是这么认为。关于经济衰退,这家投资银行提出了一个有趣的经验法则。高盛预测,如果三个月平均失业率上升超过0.3%,则经济要么已经陷入衰退,要么将在六个月内陷入衰退。

    在公布7月份就业报告之前,三个月的平均失业率为9.07%,而四月份为8.9%。如果7月份的失业率上升到9.3%,并持续到8月份,便会达到高盛公司预测的临界点。

    但从这份月度报告中,我们也只能读出这些信息。经济持续数周的低迷表现在上周四终于达到了定点,美国股市遭遇了自2008年经济危机以来最惨淡的一天。在这种情况下,任何好消息都会被放大。而市场似乎也意识到了这一点——周五,美国股市经历高开之后便迅速掉头下挫。

    虽然失业率小幅下跌,但主要是由于活跃的求职者人数有所减少——这表明求职者或许对于进入就业市场缺乏自信。7月份,参与求职的人数减少了193,000。

    而且,尽管7月份新增了117,000个工作岗位,却远远达不到150,000个工作岗位的单月需求。而这一数字则是保持人口增长,避免失业率进一步上升所必需的。而为了降低失业率,则需要至少两倍于这个数字的工作岗位。

    资本经济公司(Capital Economics)的经济学家保罗•戴尔斯写道:“宏观上来看,自经济衰退结束后两年内,就业市场并未真正好转,甚至出现了倒退。尽管这份报告能够稍微缓解民众对美国迅速陷入经济衰退的担忧,但关键在于,经济依然在苦苦挣扎,而且明年的情况也不会有任何好转。”

    因此,即使眼下经济消息面看来不再那么糟糕,但依然不容乐观。

    (翻译 刘进龙)

    Phew! After the spate of bad economic data that propelled fears that the U.S. could soon slip back into an economic recession, today's monthly report on the state of the jobs market has given us a sign – albeit a modest one – that things might not be as bad as we thought.

    The unemployment rate in July fell slightly to 9.1% from 9.2% the previous month as the economy added 117,000 jobs. This is the largest amount of jobs added in a month since April. And far more than the 18,000 net new jobs originally reported in June.

    Certainly this makes it less likely that the U.S. could fall back into a recession soon, at least according to Goldman Sachs (GS). The investment bank has come up with an interesting rule of thumb on recessions. It estimates that if the three-month average of the unemployment rate rises by more than three-tenths of a percentage point, the economy has either entered a recession already or will do so within six months.

    Prior to July's report, the three-month average unemployment rate was 9.07%, up from 8.9% in April. If July's rate had increased to 9.3% and stayed there in August, it would have met Goldman's threshold.

    But we can only read so much into today's monthly report. After weeks of bad economic news that on Thursday culminated in the stock market's worst day since the 2008 financial crisis, it's easy to inflate any good news. The market seemed to realize that -- after jumping at the opening bell on Friday, stocks quickly reversed course.

    The unemployment rate might have fallen slightly but that's mostly because the number of people actively looking for jobs fell back – signaling that perhaps workers are feeling less confident about entering the job market. In July, labor participation fell by 193,000.

    What's more, though the economy added 117,000 jobs, it falls short of the 150,000 jobs a month needed just to keep up with population growth and prevent the unemployment rate from trending higher. And it would take at least twice that many to rapidly reduce unemployment.

    "The bigger picture, then, is that two years after the recession ended the labor market has not really recovered at all, and may even have gone backwards," writes economist Paul Dales of Capital Economics. "Even though immediate recession fears may fade a little on the back of this report, the key point is that the economy is still struggling and will continue to do so next year too."

    So even if the spate of bad economic news is now looking just a little less bad, it's still bad.

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