Another month, another horrible jobs report (updated)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released another grim monthly report on the nationwide employment situation today.

UPDATE: Added statements from two members of Iowa's Congressional delegation below.

"Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent," the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Government job cuts of approximately 17,000 across the country canceled out the 17,000 net jobs added in the private sector during the month of August. That should (but won't) wake up Republicans who claim government "belt-tightening" is good for the economy.

Mike Konczal commented, "Average weekly hours, Average weekly earnings, aggregate weekly payrolls all declined in the last month. That's awful." In addition, the "average unemployment duration dropped while [the] median increased," indicating that "Migration out of labor force [is] in full swing."

Adding to the bad news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised downward its previously estimated net job gains from the months of June and July.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from +46,000 to +20,000, and the change for July was revised from +117,000 to +85,000.

Even the pre-revision numbers were not sufficient to keep pace with population growth, which means we're very far from the kind of job growth needed to bring the unemployment rate down.

SilverOz commented at the Bonddad blog,

Once again we are also seeing the real return of an educationally bifurcated economy, as those with either some college or a college degree gained (Household Survey numbers) 449,000 jobs last month, which was offset by losses of 581,000 jobs by those with just a high school diploma (all numbers are for ages 25+). The economy actually appears to be doing ok for those with a post-secondary education, but still mired in losses for those without.

Overall, this report was particularly bad as not only did it show no headline job growth, but 2 of the leading indicators from the report dipped this month and it continues to showcase a deceleration of the economy and the jobs picture that has materialized over the past few months. Once again though, this seems (at this point) relegated to those without higher educational attainment and the youth (ie under 25) as opposed to broad based declines (again, at this point). the report for September should be especially interesting, as it will be the first report that would fully include the fallout of the recent spate of negative numbers and loss of confidence (as we must remember that hiring decisions are typically made at least a full month prior to actually taking place).

At the White House blog, presidential economic adviser Katharine Abraham admitted that the unemployment rate is "unacceptably high." She said the report underscores the need for Congress to pass various bills President Barack Obama supports. Obama is scheduled to lay out his jobs plan in a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 8. We'll find out soon which group of advisers won the president over:

Mr. Obama's senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.

But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama's chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view. Democrats are also pushing the White House to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Even if the ideas cannot pass Congress, they say, the president would gain a campaign issue by pushing for them.

Either way, Obama's proposals aren't going to bring down the unemployment rate anytime soon. While the economy drags, beltway journalists are caught up in stupid drama, like U.S. House Speaker John Boehner asking the president to address Congress on September 8. Obama originally requested that a joint session be called on September 7, but that date conflicts with a scheduled Republican presidential debate.

Any comments about the U.S. economy are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Two Iowans in Congress released relevant statements on September 2. From Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02):

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Dave Loebsack today issued the following statement in response to the Department of Labor's announcement that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 percent in August and no net jobs were reported.

"It is not a coincidence that confidence in Congress is at an all time low and unemployment remains so high.  The recent political games and brinksmanship that brought our economy to the edge during the debate over the debt ceiling created so much uncertainty for businesses and the American people, alike, that hiring was put on hold.  This is the first time since February, 1945 that no net jobs have been created and that is unacceptable.

"As I travel across the Second District meeting with Iowans, I have heard one consistent thing - - Congress needs to work together to grow our economy and create jobs, and they need to stop the politicking and get things done. I could not agree more.  I plan to work with my colleagues to bring together common sense solutions to get Iowans back to work."

From Representative Bruce Braley (D, IA-01):

Braley Calls on Obama to Invest in Nation's Infrastructure

Populist Caucus Members Urge Obama to Include Infrastructure Bank in Job Creation Plan

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) called on President Obama to invest in our nation's infrastructure by developing a National Infrastructure Bank.  In a letter to the President, Rep. Braley urged the President to include the development of an Infrastructure Bank as part of his job creation plan he will be unveiling next week.  Four other members of the Populist Caucus signed the letter to the President.  The Populist Caucus has been advocating for the development of a National Infrastructure Bank for over a year and a half.  In February 2010, the Caucus endorsed legislation introduced by Vice Chair Rosa DeLauro to create a National Infrastructure Bank.

"A National Infrastructure Bank would create jobs and improve our country's aging infrastructure" said Rep. Braley.  "This plan would leverage both public and private dollars to improve our roads, bridges, tunnels and watersystems, creating jobs all across the country.  The plan also has a diverse coalition of support that includes both the business and labor communities.  It makes sense for the President to include this public-private partnership as part of his job creation plan."

A copy of the letter, which was signed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. John Yarmuth, Rep. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Peter Welch, is pasted below and available here:

Tags: Crybabies
  • Crackpot theory

    Is it just me or is there a lack of organic grassroots outcry about the jobs issue? The polls say, "Work on jobs," but I don't notice it as a popular issue to the extent that I would expect. Maybe that's a function of where I live (Massachusetts, where the economy is so-so but not terrible) or the media I consume. Certainly bloggers are on the jobs issue but I don't sense it in the air.

    I am wondering if one reason for this is the fact that since the last really bad recession, in 1982, there has been a sharp rise in two-earner families. To the extent that the bad effects of unemployment can be ameliorated somewhat if one spouse is still employed, I wonder if this is keeping a lid on this issue. Maybe some formerly two-earner families are even realizing they like a slower pace, with less child care and restaurant-dining costs. I don't want to come off as a clueless "voluntary simplicity" movement person here. I'm not talking about families in such serious trouble that they don't have enough food or whatever. I'm more thinking of middle-class families who used to be comfortable and are now less so.

    Reasons why this is a crackpot theory that is probably wrong:

    1. If jobs wasn't a potent issue, Obama wouldn't be scheduling a big policy speech on it.

    2. Most of the unemployment is among the working class and poor, not the middle class.

    Still I do wonder. Am I totally off my rocker here?

    • mostly reason number 2, I suspect

      The groups with highest unemployment rates are mostly invisible in the media discourse.

      I can't believe how much time was wasted this week discussing the Boehner/Obama dispute over scheduling the president's speech to Congress. If only the unemployment numbers were analyzed in such detailed.

      I see what you are saying about the growth in two-earner families, but with two wage-earners it seems twice as likely that someone in the household would lose a job or be underemployed in the current environment.  

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