IBJNews

U.S. unemployment rate dips despite weak jobs report

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs last month, a weak figure that could slow any momentum President Barack Obama hoped to gain from his speech to the Democratic National Convention.

The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, the Labor Department said Friday. But that was only because more people gave up looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.

The government also said 41,000 fewer jobs were created in July and June than first estimated. The economy has added just 139,000 jobs a month since the beginning of the year, below 2011's average of 153,000.

Dow Jones industrial futures, which had been up before the report, fell soon after it was released.

The report was weak throughout. Hourly pay fell, manufacturers cut the most jobs in two years and the number of people in the work force dropped to its lowest level in 31 years.

Sluggish hiring could nudge the Federal Reserve to announce some new action to boost growth after its meeting next week.

The report on hiring and unemployment is among the most politically consequential of the campaign. The figures arrive just as the presidential race enters its final stretch. Jobs are the core issue, and the report could sway some undecided voters.

There will be two additional employment reports before Election Day Nov. 6. But by then, more Americans will have made up their minds.

In his speech Thursday night, Obama acknowledged incomplete progress in repairing the still-struggling economy and asked voters to remain patient.

"The truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over the decades," Obama said.

In addition to those who've given up looking for work, many young Americans are avoiding the job market by remaining in school. All told, the proportion of the population that is either working or looking for work fell to 63.5 percent. That's the lowest level in 31 years for the labor force participation rate.

Average hourly wages dipped a penny to $23.52 and are only slightly ahead of inflation in the past year.

The average work week was unchanged in August after being revised downward in July to 34.4 hours. And the number of temporary jobs fell for the first time in five months. Both figures suggest that companies are seeing less demand for their services and need fewer workers.

Many of the jobs were in lower-paying industries such as retail, which added 6,100 jobs, and hotels, restaurants and other leisure industries, which gained 34,000. Higher-paying manufacturing jobs fell by 15,000, the most in two years.

The weak pace of hiring is the latest sign that businesses are reluctant to make big investments or add more workers. Europe's financial crisis has pushed the region's economy to the edge of recession. And a set of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the beginning of the year have created uncertainty about future growth.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • 5-Point Plan
    That's right, Romney has a 5-point plan for instant turnaround...no one can name any of the 5 points, but he has a plan. Vote for him and he'll let you know what it is.
  • How could this be?
    How could this recovery possibly be slowing. When we have a combination of the saviour and King Arthur as a president. This looks like despair and nothing changing. VOTE REPUBLICAN and I'll wager that this turns around (in less than 4 years) yeah, I know Obama and whining democrats---it's going to take more time. Vote Republican and see (no it doesn't, with a plan it can be fixed in less than 4)

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. As I understand it, the idea is to offer police to live in high risk areas in exchange for a housing benefit/subsidy of some kind. This fact means there is a choice for the officer(s) to take the offer and receive the benefit. In terms of mandating living in a community, it is entirely reasonable for employers to mandate public safety officials live in their community. Again, the public safety official has a choice, to live in the area or to take another job.

    2. The free market will seek its own level. If Employers cannot hire a retain good employees in Marion Co they will leave and set up shop in adjacent county. Marion Co already suffers from businesses leaving I would think this would encourage more of the same.

    3. We gotta stop this Senior crime. Perhaps long jail terms for these old boozers is in order. There are times these days (more rather than less) when this state makes me sick.

    4. One option is to redistribute the payroll tax already collected by the State. A greater share could be allocated to the county of the workplace location as opposed to the county of residency. Not a new tax, just re-allocate what is currently collected.

    5. Have to agree with Mal Burgess. The biggest problem is massive family breakdown in these neighborhoods. While there are a lot of similiarities, there is a MASSIVE difference between 46218 and 46219. 46219 is diluted by some stable areas, and that's probably where the officers live. Incentivizing is fine, but don't criticize officers for choosing not to live in these neighbor hoods. They have to have a break from what is arguably one of the highest stress job in the land. And you'll have to give me hard evidence that putting officers there is going to make a significant difference. Solid family units, responsible fathers, siblings with the same fathers, engaged parents, commitment to education, respect for the rule of law and the importance of work/a job. If the families and the schools (and society) will support these, THEN we can make a difference.

    ADVERTISEMENT