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The Jobs Report: Sounded Good on the Surface… Never Mind the Details

A little over a week ago when the Labor Department released the latest jobs report, politicians went to work cherry picking the numbers to work in their favor.  And the White House was quick to point out that the economy added 163,000 jobs last month…and just over 1 million jobs so far this year.

As much as the addition of those jobs sounds great, it’s not enough.  Adding 163,000 jobs in a month will work toward absorbing the new job seekers that come into the labor market…but it won’t bring the unemployment rate down.  So far this year, on average we have gained 151,000 jobs each month.  At that pace, we won’t be back to pre-recession levels of employment till 2025 (according to the Hamilton Project).

And as much as it sounds great that we have added over 1 million jobs this year, there are still 12.7 million people without a job, and 5.2 million who have been out of work for at least six months.

And while we added jobs, we also watched the jobless rate tick up to 8.3% (or 8.2535% to be exact).  But the popular headline rate doesn’t tell the whole story.  If you include people who want to work full-time, but can only find part-time work, and people who have stopped looking for a job because they are too discouraged, the rate rose to 15%.  And the number of people who are working ‘part-time for economic reasons’ rose to 8.25 million.

In a healthy job market, there are around 2 people looking for work for every one available job.  When the recession ended in 2009, there were 7 people unemployed for every open job.  Today, there are still around 3.4 jobless for every job (based on the Labor Departments job openings and labor turnover survey).

Washington and the media will find what they want to find in the numbers.  But the bottom line is the mixed results of the jobs report are another reminder that the labor market is still struggling.


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