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No Jobs, and No Confidence

Chalk up another historic feat for the Obama presidency: the U.S. gained zero jobs in August, the first time this has happened since February 1945:

The U.S. jobless rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent in August, marking the first time in more than 50 years that the net job gain/loss was unchanged for a month, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday morning.

The Labor Department says total payrolls were unchanged in August, the weakest report in almost a year. It’s the first time since February 1945 that the government has reported a net job change of zero.

The unemployment rate remained steady at a 9.1 percent. And while the White House points out the dismal Labor Department report was compounded by the 45,000 Verizon workers who went on strike last month, the news was still dismal even if you overlook those figures. The number of part-time workers increased, and hourly wages dropped. The meager job gains from June and July were both revised down as well:

The Labor Department now says that in July 85,000 jobs were created, down from 117,000 in the earlier estimate, while the number of jobs added in June was revised down from 46,000 to 20,000. …

Average hourly earnings fell by 3 cents to $23.09, while the average working week dropped to 34.2 hours from 34.3 hours in July.

The gloomy forecast adds additional pressure to Obama’s upcoming jobs speech, but it’s hard to imagine his speech will include any new groundbreaking proposals. His ideas so far have included more job training, a focus on “green job” creation, and financial incentives for companies hiring veterans – nothing substantial enough to jumpstart the recovery. Even his recent rural jobs plan was criticized by economists for merely shifting jobs, instead of creating new ones. Now is the time he should be reaching out to Republicans to try to craft major bipartisan solutions, but based on the cynical political ploy with his speech scheduling, it’s doubtful he’s doing anything of the sort.


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