Last Friday, the LFS release for April showed an increase in employment, which was a bit of a surprise. If you add that to the increasingly good news out of the US, then you might be tempted to think that we got out of this one pretty easily:
If March 2009 turns out to be the trough, then we will have been very lucky, indeed. But there's another number that came out Friday that wasn't part of the press release: hours worked. This series is more closely related to economic activity than is employment, and the news here isn't so good:
This is a very noisy series (the LFS asks for hours worked in a reference week), so it's easy to see why it's not a part of the main release. But it should be noted that hours worked declined by 1.4% in April: the steepest fall we've seen so far in this recession.
I'm inclined to be optimistic about the prospects for a turning point in the next couple of months or so. But I don't think it happened in April.