Headlines across the nation yesterday and today scream that 96,000 jobs were created in August and unemployment fell 0.2 percent, but any read of the data below the headlines is dismal for Democrats coming off a weak convention that was topped Thursday by a lackluster performance from the Great Bloviator himself.
The number of jobs created is about 30,000 or more below expectations, depending on whose predictions you use, and even that number is barely at the level the country would need to break even for the month.
The important number for the month is 368,000. That’s how many formerly employed Americans gave up hope of finding a job in August and fell off the government’s tables.
The number of people employed in August actually decreased by 119,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But because of the huge number of people dropping out of the job market altogether, the total number of people counted as unemployed shrank by 250,000, producing an illusory decrease in unemployment from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent.
The previous month, when unemployment rose to 8.3 percent, the administration had argued hard that it was “really