THE ECONOMY: Let 'Em Eat Cake

Reporting gloomy economic news last week, federal agencies reached back nearly a decade for unpleasant comparisons. Unemployment, the Labor Department announced, hit 3,188,000 last month, highest November total since the recession year of 1949. Housing starts across the U.S. in 1957, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will fall short of the milliona-year rate for the first time since 1948.

Cheerful voices pointed out that the heavy sag in employment from October to November—1,132,000—was largely the result of unusually wet, wintry weather that cut more than seasonally deep into farm employment. But with the steel industry operating at 69% of...

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