In the fall of 2007, when the U.S. economy first seemed in peril, I began answering reader queries here on the Business Desk. I still do so, but this page has expanded to include posts from eminent economists, "far-flung correspondents," and a variety of voices that have intriguing and/or useful things to say about economics, broadly defined. Please feel encouraged to respond to any and all of them.
One brief comment on the jobs numbers. The net addition of 216,000 jobs, from the so-called payroll survey, is respectable. But the "household survey" reports roughly the same number of unemployed Americans: 13.5 million. You can't tell a lot from any one month's numbers (as we monthly warn), but the unemployment rate barely budged because the "civilian workforce" added nearly as many people as the economy did jobs.
For pessimists, the number to worry about is what we call "U-7." It includes all Americans "who currently want a job" but aren't officially "in the labor force"; ie, they haven't looked for work in the past year. The March U-7: 17.7 percent.
See Weekonomics: Our Friday Roundup for a video of Paul chatting with MIT economist Simon Johnson for more on the unemployment numbers and the news of the week.