Stocks fall on bad job news

President Bush might want to hurry up on his stimulus package, as one piece of bad economic news begat another Friday.

Published January 4, 2008 11:05PM (EST)

We know it seems like there's no news today beyond Iowa, New Hampshire and the continuing saga of Britney Spears, but there is at least some out there. Some might even -- and this is hard for us tabloid lovers to admit -- affect more people than whether or not Britney gets to keep her kids.

Like today's monthly jobs report, which showed that the country added just 18,000 jobs last month, the lowest total in four years and well below the number needed just to keep up with increases in the size of the workforce. Unsurprisingly, Wall Street did not react well to this news. The Dow Jones industrial average and the NYSE went down about 2 percent, the NASDAQ more than 3.

Never fear, though -- President Bush is considering whether to offer an economic stimulus package, and speaking today, he said, "This economy of ours is on a solid foundation, but we can't take economic growth for granted. And there are signs that will cause us to be ever more diligent and make sure that good policies come out of Washington." He also said, "We've had 52 straight months of job creation," which is true in the strictest sense, but not true in ... well, pretty much every other way. As noted earlier, a certain number of jobs need to be created every month just to keep pace with the growth of the workforce over the same period. That number is about 150,000, meaning that just this past month what we've really added is about 132,000 new unemployed people.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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