Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in December

The American economy gained 148,000 jobs last month. We need 90,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth, which means that net job growth clocked in at 58,000 jobs. That’s pretty weak. The employment-population ratio stayed flat yet again, and the headline unemployment rate stayed steady at 4.1 percent.

I added a trend line this month because the general trajectory of the jobs report is pretty clear these days: after peaking at the start of 2015, job growth has been on a slow but steady downward trend. At the current rate, net job growth will be close to zero by the end of the year. Alternatively, of course, it’s possible that the trendline will change. Maybe the tax cut will produce a temporary sugar high. Or maybe a recession will start and job growth will crater.

On the bright side, wages of production and nonsupervisory workers were up 3.9 percent. That’s a net gain of about 1.7 percent after accounting for inflation. It would be good news indeed if we could keep this up for a while.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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