Commentary Magazine


The Jobs Report

The number of jobs increased an anemic 114,000 (with the numbers for both July and August revised upwards). The labor force participation rate barely ticked up, from 63.5 percent to 63.6. That’s still a dismal number. Long-term unemployment (over 27 weeks) edged up to 40.1 percent of the unemployed.

This year has seen an average job growth of 143,000 per month. In 2011 it was 153,000. But the number that will be in the headlines is 7.8 percent.

That’s the unemployment rate for September, down fully three-tenths of a percent from August and the first time it has been under 8 percent since Obama took office in January 2009, when it was 7.6 percent; 7.8 percent is also, presumably coincidentally, the unemployment rate when Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984 (although the rate was falling fast that year), the highest unemployment rate at which a president was re-elected since FDR. It’s also the biggest monthly decline since January 2011, although economists (who had been predicting job growth of 118,000, pretty close to the actual number) had been predicting no change at all.

The White House is happy this morning.