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After the Party, a Disappointing Jobs Report

Discouraged workers drop unemployment rate to 8.1 percent

| BY Donald Liebenson

U.S. employers added a disappointing 93,000 jobs in August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday. The government also revised downward its original estimates for jobs created in June and July by 41,000. The economy has added an average of 139,000 jobs a month since the beginning of the year, which is below last year’s average of 153,000.

The unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, but analysts attribute this to more people who have given up looking for work, and are therefore not included by the government among the unemployed. The unemployment rate has been above 8 percent since February 2009.

The number of unemployed Americans was flat in August (12.5 million, little changed from July’s 12.8 million). So, too were the unemployment rates among the major worker segments, including teenagers (24.6 percent), blacks (14.1 percent), Hispanics (10.2 percent), adult men (7.6 percent), adult women (7.3 percent) and whites (7.2 percent). The jobless rate for Asians was 5.9 percent, little changed from a year earlier, the government reported.

In August, the number of those who have been jobless for at least 27 weeks was little changed at 5 million. These “long-term unemployed” account for 40 percent of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part-time because their hours had been scaled back or because they were unable to find a full-time job was little changed at 8 million. Last month, 2.6 million persons were “marginally attached” to the labor force, meaning they were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime over the course of the prior year. Because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding this month’s survey, they were not counted among the unemployed.

Among the marginally attached workers, there were 844,000 discouraged workers in August, a decline of 133,000 from a year earlier. These individuals are not currently looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available to them.

Employment in food services and drinking places increased by 28,000 in August, and by 298,000 over the past year. Professional and technical services saw an increase of 27,000, while computer systems design and related services saw job gains of 11,000.

Health care employment increased in August by 17,000. The government also reported that utilities employment increased by 9,000 last month, which reflects the resolution of a labor-management dispute that had kept utility workers off payrolls in July.

There were employment declines in manufacturing and motor vehicles and parts.

In his Democratic Convention speech Thursday night, President Obama stated, “It will take more than few years to solve challenges that have built up over the decades…Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place.  Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together.

Following the release of the jobs report, Republican challenger Mitt Romney issued a statement Friday: “If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover.”

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.