A Decent Jobs Report, But Just Decent

by Rea Hederman

While this month’s job report is better than last month’s report, the good news is almost entirely confined to the establishment or payroll survey. The household survey, which reports the official unemployment rate, continues to be gloomy.

The unemployment rate fell slightly, but this was due to 193,000 workers leaving the labor force, with almost all of those exiting being adult men. The average duration of unemployment topped 40 weeks for the first time in survey history, which began in 1948. The median duration of unemployment did decline as some of the long-term unemployed dropped out of the labor market.

The more reliable establishment survey contains all the good news. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 154,000 private-sector jobs, but reductions in government employment brought net employment growth to 117,000. However, most of the downturn in state employment (-23,000) was due to the temporary Minnesota government shutdown. The survey also reports that revisions to previous surveys are positive by 56,000 jobs.

Wages also bounced back sharply from the June report. Temporary help grew for the first time since March. The establishment survey is showing sluggish growth, but a labor market moving forward.

This is more like a decent jobs report instead of a good report. But right now, a decent report looks awfully good in the midst of all the other bad economic data out there.

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