As you have undoubtedly heard, the unemployment figures that came in on Friday were very disappointing, finishing off a week of tough news for the economy. All told, the economy created 54,000 jobs in May; the private sector created more, at 83,000, but that was still the smallest such figure since last September.
Despite the fact that the economy added jobs, the unemployment rate rose anyway, to 9.1 percent. There are roughly 90,000 people entering the work force every month, so we need to add at least that many jobs just to break even.
What's it going to take to get us back to normal? According to one estimate, if we add 250,000 jobs per month for the next five years, we'll be back to where we were in December 2007, when the recession hit. Prior to May, over the previous three months the economy had added an average of 220,000 jobs per month. It remains to be seen whether May is an aberration, and we're still largely on the right track, or whether this is a serious slowdown.