The very unexpected improvement in the jobs picture - only 11,000 jobs lost in November and a slight drop in the unemployment rate to 10 percent - has all the experts scrambling for explanations. One that's already popping up centers on how the near-implosion in the financial markets late last year scared employers so much that hiring basically stopped (you can really see this in 2008's seasonal hiring). That turned out to be too radical a step. It's the position taken by economic bulls who believe the recovery will be a lot swifter than is generally believed. From the NYT's Floyd Norris:
Why? One reason is the sheer abruptness of the decline in employment during the recent recession. (Yes, I think it is over.) After Lehman Brothers failed, the unemployment rate rose at a faster clip than at any time since 1975. There was something approaching panic among employers. They feared sales would collapse and that credit would be unavailable. In that spirit, they cut every cost they could. Imports plunged because no one wanted to add inventory. Ad spending collapsed. And people were fired.