Here’s the Jobs Report Politicians Will Discuss for the Next Month

The U.S. economy added 114,000 jobs in September, bringing the national unemployment rate down to 7.8 percent, the lowest it has been since January 2009.

August’s job gains were also revised up from 96,000 to 142,000 Friday morning, helping to bring the official unemployment rate down from 8.1 percent.

However, the report might not be the cause to celebrate one would think. First of all, the falling jobless rate has in recent months been just as much a function of a shrinking labor force as it has been the result of new jobs. That’s because many would-be job seekers have given up after months, even years of unemployment. Others have taken part-time jobs.

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Furthermore, it presents some contradictory data points, namely, “jobs employed” versus “jobs added.” The government says the economy added 114,000 jobs last month, a not very robust figure, but that the total number of jobs employed increased by 873,000, the biggest one-month gain in 29 years.

The 873,000 increase in employment comes from a household survey that excludes annual Census population adjustments. Some 582,000 Americans took part-time positions, though, which makes this figure less impressive. The underemployment rate — which includes part-time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want to work but have given up looking — remained steady at 14.7 percent.

The so-called underemployment rate — which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking — held at 14.7 percent.

One highlight for workers last month was the increase in wages — average hourly earnings climbed 0.3 percent to $23.58.

The report also came with good news for teenagers, among whom the jobless rate fell from 24.6 percent to 23.7 percent.

Private payrolls accounted for most of the growth, rising by 104,000 in September. However, they still came in lower than a projected advance of 130,000. Meanwhile, factories actually eliminated 16,000 positions, while a survey had forecast no change.

Construction was a bright spot, adding 5,000 workers, as was retail, adding 9,400 more employees. Government payrolls increased by 10,000 after a 45,000 jump the month before.

As the penultimate employment report before the presidential election, it could play a large role in the results. Many Americans consider the economy to be the most important issue in this race, even trumping social issues and U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

With the unemployment rate down to its lowest point since Barack Obama took office, some may credit the president with the economic turnaround, while others may blame him for high levels of unemployment reached during his presidency.

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