Job market stronger than we think?

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We got some decent news last week that Minnesota’s jobless rate held steady for July at 6.8 percent, although it’s been pretty much a given that nationally things still stink for job creation.

But some interesting national data from two sources today suggests that as Labor Day approaches the job picture may be better than we realize.

First up, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lays out an interesting chart showing, “Gross job losses from closing and contracting private sector establishments have steadily decreased, from a recent high of 8.5 million in December 2008 to 6.8 million in December 2009 — their lowest level since June 1994.”

Click on the chart for a larger view.

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Next comes the national outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which takes a look at their data today and concludes, “the job market is well on the road to recovery and that it is rebounding sooner and faster compared to the jobless recoveries that followed the previous two recessions.”

Its tracking of planned job-cut announcements shows a “dramatic decline in layoffs since June 2009.”(Click on the chart for a larger view.)

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Neither the Bureau of Labor Statistics nor Challenger is arguing that things are fine. And one look at this chart from the Federal Reserve bank of Minneapolis confirms this is the harshest post-war recession for employment loss.

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Minnesota’s most recent data came with some positive signs — the state’s added 29,100 jobs over the past 12 months — mixed with the reality that construction and other sectors are still struggling badly and job-wise, it’s a long climb back.

We’re starting to see the same patterns emerge nationally. There are reasons to be optimistic. But optimism doesn’t pay the bills.

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What’s your household economy look like for September? Feeling better or worse about your economic prospects? Tell us and help our reporting.

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