About today’s bad job numbers . . .

In a post yesterday, I talked at some length about signs that could indicate we are entering a new (double-dip) recession right now. Check it out here.

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly data showed sharply lower job growth in May: an additional 54,000 jobs in the economy. The unemployment rate inched up to 9.1%, but small fluctuations in the rate — and sometimes significant ones — are not necessarily good barometers of the health of the economy.

So 54,000 jobs, that’s still growth, right? Well, that’s far lower than the number of jobs needed to keep pace with population growth. And employment is generally considered a lagging economic indicator — i.e., current employment data might be reflective of underlying trends from several months earlier.

A couple of graphs from Calculated Risk this a.m.:

These are ugly. The second graph should be ample evidence to convince people that the 2007 recession was not an ordinary one, and that we need to put job creation as our top economic priority. Slashing the federal deficit precipitously and dramatic cuts at the state and local level will only exacerbate the employment picture, perhaps for several years.

The first graph shows that fewer adults of working age are in the labor force at all (even as job seekers). There has been an uptick in higher education enrollment, so that accounts for some of the decline, but far too many workers have given up and therefore don’t appear in the data.