“Let the good times roll … You gotta go out and spend some cash … I don’t care if you’re young or old … let the good times roll.” So advised blues singer BB King in the 1990s. Whether it is good advice today depends on how you read some complicated data.
Most consumers will look at last week’s jobs report, showing that the unemployment rate rose from 9.4% to 9.7%, the highest level since June 1983, and shudder. Economists will look at another part of that report: job losses in August were 216,000 (198,000 in the private sector), well down from the average monthly loss of almost 700,000 in the first quarter of the year, and the 421,000 in the second quarter. If the improvement continues, the jobs market might level off by year-end.
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