March Unemployment Report Yields More Questions
The economy added a sparse 120,000 jobs in March, according to the jobs report released last week, the weakest such numbers in nearly half a year. Encouragingly, the unemployment rate declined to 8.2 percent, but this “good news” was marred by the fact that 100,000 Americans vanished from the labor force. As PBS summarized the situation: “If more people drop out than lose jobs, the ratio of unemployed to workers sinks, and that’s what appears to have happened in March.”
Although no one data point guarantees a broader trend, the overall weakness of the March jobs report does not help calm anxieties about the lackluster strength and pace of the economic recovery.
A strong, growing economy is vital to fighting poverty and hunger and creating an American society that is steeped in economic justice. In Deuteronomy we are taught that “if there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs” (15:7-8). The rabbis remind us that “sufficient for whatever he needs” implies we are commanded to maintain him at the level he is at, neither making him rich nor allowing him to fall into poverty. So long as the economic recovery continues to lag, we have more work to do to fulfill these obligations.
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Image courtesy of the Washington Business Journal