Ulti­mately, that kind of accel­er­a­tion in hiring is unlikely without a sus­tained increase in the pace of eco­nomic growth. Indeed, as achingly slow as jobs growth has been in recent years, hiring has actu­ally out­paced the broader recovery. An eco­nomic rule of thumb holds that gross domestic product has to rise two points faster than its long-​​term trend to gen­erate a one-​​percentage-​​point drop in the unem­ploy­ment rate. If that rela­tion­ship had held during the cur­rent recovery, unem­ploy­ment would hardly have fallen at all.

If you don’t grow, you don’t make jobs,” said William Dickens, a North­eastern Uni­ver­sity econ­o­mist and senior fellow with the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion. “There has been a very slow pace to the recovery overall.”

The economy has likely gained a bit of steam in the new year, but only in com­par­ison to the near-​​zero growth that marked the end of 2012. Most econ­o­mists figure output is growing at a rate of less than 2% to start 2013, and gov­ern­ment budget cuts as a result of the “sequester” make a more sig­nif­i­cant accel­er­a­tion unlikely.

Read the article at The Wall Street Journal →