The economy continued its slump in March, sloughing off 80,000 jobs. An economic consultant assesses the latest set of job numbers and what it indicates about the health of the U.S. economy.
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Today's news that 80,000 jobs were lost in March provided yet more evidence that economic conditions continue to weaken. So far this year, employers have shed some 232,000 jobs, with some of the biggest losses coming in construction, manufacturing and financial services. We get some perspective now from Nick Perna, managing director of Perna Associates, an economic analysis consulting firm. He is also a lecturer at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. If you are trying to assess the health of the economy overall, what does this latest set of numbers tell you?
NICK PERNA, managing director, Perna Associates: Ray, it tells you that the — that we are in a recession. There's almost no doubt about it at this point.
You know, economists always caution against taking one month's numbers and trying to read too much into that. But what do three straight months of decline tell you about what is going on in the wider economy?
Well, think that they are pretty convincing evidence, Ray, that we are in a decline, that the economy peaked somewhere around December of last year. And we're seeing more and more things that point to recession. For example, just the other day, we got a labor market indicator called initial claims for unemployment insurance. And that went above 400,000 people for the first time in a while. And that's usually also associated with recession. So, it is not just these three months, which in and of themselves are pretty compelling evidence, but it is other stuff as well.