The unemployment figures are stubborn. According to Gallup:
- The unemployment rate "was 10.0% in March -- down from 10.2% in mid-March and 10.3% at the end of February, but above the 9.8% at the end of January. U.S. unemployment was 10.4% at the end of March a year ago."
- "The percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work was 9.3% at the end of March -- down from 9.7% in mid-March and 9.6% in both February measurements. The current percentage remains higher than the 9.1% at the end of January but lower than the 10.0% of a year ago."
- And "underemployment also fell, to 19.3% from 19.9% in mid-March and at the end of February."
The mild "good news" in the numbers really doesn't reassure much. As Gallup notes, "contrary to the federal government's recent job reports, Gallup's unemployment and underemployment measures suggest that recent job increases have not been sufficient to significantly improve the jobs situation so far in 2011."
The second and third bullets, especially, can measure two things: people who really want work, and those who say they don't because they are discouraged. Hopefully, the drop means that employers are hiring, even if cautiously.
But when one looks at the pattern over the past year, there is no way around the conclusion that these figures are stubborn.
And there's no way to fail to notice that neither party has a jobs agenda to match these numbers. Personally, I think the bill Tim Scott introduced this week to lower corporate tax rates would do more to bring these numbers down than anything on the table.