With all the disturbing news coming out of Washington DC these days—Supreme Court arguments over Affordable Care Act subsidies, a congressional battle over President Obama’s immigration order and concern with Iran’s nuclear program—great news on jobs is a welcome change.

The U.S. economy in February created 295,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reducing the national unemployment rate to 5.5%. This continues a steady improvement from the 10% unemployment rate posted in October 2009, when BLS estimated that an incredible 15.3 million Americans were out of work.  

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Jobs News: It Doesn’t Get Much Better

Fri Mar 6, 2015

With all the disturbing news coming out of Washington DC these days—Supreme Court arguments over Affordable Care Act subsidies, a congressional battle over President Obama’s immigration order and concern with Iran’s nuclear program—great news on jobs is a welcome change.

The U.S. economy in February created 295,000 new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reducing the national unemployment rate to 5.5%. This continues a steady improvement from the 10% unemployment rate posted in October 2009, when BLS estimated that an incredible 15.3 million Americans were out of work.

February marked the 12th consecutive month with more than 200,000 new jobs, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. It also means that over the past year the economy created a whopping 3.2 million new jobs. And February job gains were across the board, including food services, professional and business services, construction, health care, transportation, retail trade and manufacturing. America is enjoying a jobs boom.

Good news on jobs is a harbinger of promising developments on other fronts as well. For one, wage growth, at plus two percent over the past year, can be expected to accelerate after several years of anemic performance. For another, federal payroll and income tax revenue—linked to wages—should pick up, taking some pressure off Social Security and the budget deficit.

Indeed, U.S. News & World Report recently noted that the so-called “Misery Index,” which adds the nation’s unemployment rate and inflation rate, dropped to 5.6% in January, the lowest reading recorded since May 1959, over a half-century ago.

To be sure, the breaking news on jobs does not mean the U.S. has achieved economic utopia. Millions are still unemployed, underemployed or earning substandard wages.

But after more than five years of sluggish growth and high unemployment the U.S. economy unquestionably is moving in the right direction. Naysayers notwithstanding, America is getting back to work. Employers are regaining their competitive edge and creating new jobs. And wages are at last showing signs of life—even as inflation remains well under control.

To paraphrase the title of the Jack Nicholson (Oscar for Best Actor) and Helen Hunt (Oscar for Best Actress) 1997 romantic comedy classic, As Good as it Gets, the economy doesn’t get much better than this.