Commentary Magazine

Another Lackluster Jobs Report

Image by © Chat Roberts/Corbis.

The August jobs report came in with only 173,000 new jobs, well under the consensus estimate of 220,000. However, the unemployment rate ticked down by two-tenths to 5.1 percent. Both June and July had their jobs numbers raised, to 245,000 each, up by 44,000 for the two months.

The participation rate stayed flat at 62.6 percent for the third month in a row, but is under last August’s 62.9 percent rate.  People working part time because their hours were cut back or they can’t find full-time employment rose by 158,000 from July to 6.83 million, but that is down by almost 800,000 from last August.

In sum, the new report shows still another month of  lackluster recovery from the recession that, officially at least, ended way back in June 2009.  More and more the Obama recovery resembles the Roosevelt recovery in the 1930’s. Most of the arrows are pointing slightly upwards, but the recovery has been agonizingly slow and many people don’t think there has been one at all.

The big question, of course, is how this report will influence the Federal Reserve’s decision on whether to raise interest rates at the mid-September meeting, something the Fed has not done since 2006.  They have plenty of excuses for not doing so at this time, including this report, the stock market turmoil, and China’s economic woes.

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