Do the Latest Job Numbers Point the Way Towards Recession?

Do the Latest Job Numbers Point the Way Towards Recession?

After a January jobs report that saw over 300,000 jobs added to the economy, most economists expected a milder February, with consensus estimates expecting about 180,000 new jobs. It came as a huge shock, then, that only 20,000 new jobs were added in February. That was one of the worst numbers in years, and feeds into fears that the economy is on the edge of recession.

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Officials were quick to blame bad weather for much of the disappointing miss, as they always do, but bad weather alone can’t be solely responsible for such a bad miss. Besides, analysts presumably figured in the effect of weather when making their predictions. And because a 20,000-job gain is probably well within the margin of error, it basically means that the economy ground to a halt in February in terms of job creation.

The real test will be in the coming months to see whether job creation remains similarly anemic. March isn’t exactly turning out to be great in terms of weather in many areas of the country, so that could continue to have an impact. And sanctions, or the threat of them, could be keeping many companies from hiring until they can be assured of any potential impact.

And of course, we could just be seeing the tail end of the business cycle. With January having added over 300,000 jobs, February could be the harsh wake-up call that the post-financial crisis boom is finally over. With stock markets once again showing signs of weakness, it’s only a matter of time before investors everywhere realize that the economy is in serious trouble.

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All the warning signs are here that the economy is about to enter a downturn, yet many investors remain blind to the dangers. They’re still hoping for stocks to resume their upward growth, for the Dow to break above 27,000 and the S&P 500 to break 3,000. They haven’t done anything to protect their assets, like by investing in gold, so when the downturn comes they’ll suffer tremendously for their inaction.