OH NO JOBS REPORT IS … Oh, It’s Fine Bordering On Just Okay? Carry On, Then


The monthly jobs report for September was released Friday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it was another of those months for new jobs that fell short of economists’ forecasts, largely due to the continued effects of the pandemic, with a downturn in government jobs, particularly in education. Total non-farm payrolls increased by 194,000 jobs, well short of the Dow Jones forecast of 500,000.

There were also some positive numbers, particularly in the overall unemployment rate, which fell to 4.8 percent, its lowest point since the start of the pandemic in February 2020. CNBC notes,

The drop in the jobless rate came as the labor force participation rate edged lower, meaning more people who were sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic have returned to the workforce. A more encompassing number that also includes so-called discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons declined to 8.5%, also a pandemic-era low.

More good news: Wages increased by .6 percent, reflecting the continuing competition by re-opening businesses for a pool of workers who find themselves with more options for work.

And as the Washington Post points out, the report


was another blow to Republicans who claimed repeatedly that generous unemployment aid was keeping people from work. Millions of people lost all aid or had it significantly scaled back at the start of September. But there was not an immediate wave of workers returning to jobs.

The report also reflected the bind many women find themselves in as the pandemic hangs on:

[An] alarming number of women had to stop working again to deal with unstable school and child-care situations.

The numbers are striking: 309,000 women over age 20 dropped out of the labor force in September, meaning they quit work or halted their job searches. In contrast, 182,000 men joined the labor force, Labor Department data showed.

And as with other monthly employment reports in our weird pandemic economy, the timing of the Labor Department sample had an effect on the overall outcome that it wouldn’t in normal economic times. Again, here’s CNBC’s explanation:

The survey week of Sept. 12 came just as Covid cases were peaking in the U.S. The delta variant spread since has cooled, with cases most recently dropping below an average of 100,000 a day.

President Biden referred to that in his remarks today on the employment news, pointing out that since the week of the survey, “we’ve seen the daily cases fall by more than one-third and they’re continuing to trend down, and we’re continuing to make progress.” Assuming that trend continues, and that vaccination rates improve as both the federal government and private industries mandate vaccines, that ought to mean a better jobs report for October.

Oh look, it is video!


youtu.be

Biden’s remarks focused primarily on the positive parts of the monthly report, like the improvement in the unemployment rate, increased wages, a big decline in long-term unemployment, and the overall trends in employment, “on average, 600,000 new jobs created every month since I took office.”

Biden downplayed the significance of the jobs report falling short, particularly because of the distortions caused by the pandemic, and argued that overall trends remain strong:

Right now, things in Washington, as you all know, are awfully noisy. Turn on the news and every conversation is a confrontation. Every disagreement is a crisis. But when you take a step back and look at what’s happening, we’re actually making real progress. […] Maybe it doesn’t seem fast enough. I’d like to see it faster and we’re going to make it faster. Maybe it doesn’t appear dramatic enough. […] We’re making consistent and steady progress, though.

For its part, Fox News treated Biden’s remarks as an absolute catastrophe, calling the jobs report “bleak” and “dismal,” although those are usually words you’d expect in a report on jobs losses, not slower-than-hoped jobs gains. Fox also griped that Biden didn’t take questions from reporters, because what is he hiding from, huh? The Fox story delicately hinted that maybe it’s because Biden is actually a senile vegetable who may in fact already be dead, saying he has “repeatedly implied that his handlers set the rules and determine when and where he’s allowed to take questions from the press.” The link is to a story about Biden joking that he’d “get in trouble with my staff” for taking questions at an appearance when no Q&A had been scheduled. See? Total puppet! Who’s really running things?

We’d like to suggest the most sinister explanation of all for Biden’s not taking questions after the remarks on the jobs report: He had a pretty full schedule today, and shortly after the jobs report, held another event to announce his order restoring the full boundaries of national monuments that Donald Trump had shrunk.

Or maybe Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton told him to do it.

Also too, Yr Dok Zoom is taking a much needed vacay and will be back Tuesday, Oct. 19, so here is a photo of Thornton the cat. He is, as ever, photogenic AF.

[Bureau of Labor Statistics / CNBC / CNN / WaPo / Fox News]

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