PAUL KRUGMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, it begins with a sigh, because, look, this is better than naught. Right? Better than no jobs. But unemployment is a funny number. Unemployment, you're only considered unemployed if you're actively looking for work. And so if you look, over the past year, the unemployment rates have come down a lot, significantly anyway. But that's basically almost all because fewer people are looking for work.
AMANPOUR: So where is it headed in terms of the people looking for work?
KRUGMAN: Well, it's still terrible. It's still a terrible job market. It's not deteriorating. But it's still a very -- there's still about five times as many people looking for jobs as there are job openings. And it's still -- the length, the average duration of unemployment hit a new record.
So we're in a situation where, you know, things are not getting worse, or at least not getting worse in all dimensions anymore.
AMANPOUR: So is that good news? It's not getting worse.
GEORGE WILL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it's not getting worse. Actually, the good news within the news is that there are 14,000 fewer people working for government in the United States as state and local governments shed jobs.
But a corollary of what Paul just said is that when the economy picks up and people become encouraged to go back into seeking jobs, you could have the economy rising and unemployment rising simultaneously.
We lost more jobs in this great recession than the last four recessions combined. Now we have had, for 28 months, essentially zero interest rates. The quantitative easing, the printing of money that began in November, under this the Fed -- the Federal Reserve Board has been buying 70 percent of the new issues of Treasury debt. That ends in June.
That probably distresses Paul.
KRUGMAN: Yes, I would just say that the aftermath of a terrible financial crisis, and this was the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, is always a prolonged period of weak growth. And the tragedy is that Washington has given up on the jobs picture.
It's not that -- it's not a failure of policy. I think the policies that we have undertaken made things less bad than they would have been. But here we are with still terrible unemployment rate, 37 weeks the average unemployed person is unemployed. And no interest in Washington about doing anything to create jobs.
AMANPOUR: So we were just speaking to Senators Sessions and Schumer. Did you hear anything from them that would lead to a slightly less grim outlook?
IGNATIUS: Only that you heard a reluctance on both sides to take the budget showdown off the edge of a cliff. I didn't hear much enthusiasm for a shutdown from Senator Sessions on the Republican side.
I think what's excited the White House about these numbers is not the unemployment number per se, because as Paul says, there are all sorts of complicated factors that go into that, but the job growth number. And it does look as if the economy is finally beginning to generate jobs in the numbers that over time, would bring the unemployment rate down and would get you back on a trajectory of more normal growth. We're not there yet. But I think people see, you know, a light at the end of the tunnel, you can say, they at least see the tunnel.