President Obama got some welcome news today as the U.S. economy generated 248,000 jobs last month, the unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent, a six-year low.
Economists had been expecting about 215,000 jobs and thought the unemployment rate would remain about 6.1 percent.
Job growth was stronger during the summer than previously thought, with 181,000 jobs created August instead of 142,000 and 243,000 in July, ahead of the previous estimate of 212,000.
But some of the progress is less impressive than it seems. The jobless rate, which at 5.9 percent is still higher than it should be, in part reflects the declining number of Americans in the workforce. The labor force participation rate, already at historic lows, actually fell a tenth of a point last month to 62.7 percent, the lowest level since 1978.
Hourly earnings for private sector worker fell a penny to $24.53.
I wonder if the president knew yesterday, when he did what was deemed a politically unwise thing and helped nationalize the midterm elections by characterizing them as a referendum on his economic policies.
“Make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them,” Obama said at Northwestern University.
The president is not supposed to get advance notice of the jobs report.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the jobs report could be a sign of a real, as opposed to the usual illusory, return to growth:
Stronger job creation this year has boosted hopes the economy will emerge from the subpar 2% growth pace of recent years and into a stronger phase. There are early signs of that happening.
Gross domestic product—the broadest measure of U.S. output—grew at a 4.6% annual rate in the second quarter, equaling the fastest pace of the recovery. That partly reflected a rebound from a winter contraction. But many economists expect GDP growth to clock in near 3% in the third quarter, suggesting sustained momentum.
What’s left out of much of the analysis is that, if this is the return of a stronger economy, it took the president five years to achieve it. And that’s a lot of suffering in the meantime.
What’s more, the massive new regulations he has inflicted on the country – including but not nearly limited to Obamacare – and the debt he has saddled it with portend disaster down the road.
But that will perhaps be for someone else to fix. Unless, like Obama’s mistakes overseas, his errors domestically come back to haunt him before he is done.