The Corner

Jobs Growth Keeps Slowing in September

The U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in September, which is in line with a slight slowdown in jobs growth this summer and fall. Economists had expected 180,000 jobs to be added, and for the unemployment rate to remain at 7.2 percent — it ticked down to 7.2 percent. But, while the unemployment rate also dropped at the last report, in August (due to lower labor-force participation) the three months through August saw substantially lower jobs growth than the three months beginning the year (151,000 vs. 233,000), in part because the BLS revised down some of the summer numbers — and this is right in line with that slowdown. The U.S. economy has now averaged about 150,000 jobs added over the past four months, and 143,000 over the last three, a depressingly low pace — enough to keep unemployment dropping, but just barely.

This would lend more support to the Fed’s decision not to “taper” its monetary stimulus in September, as had been planned — since the weak showing they based that decision on this summer hasn’t improved. If the next couple months show some damage from the federal government shutdown and/or a continuation of this weak trend, and with the appointment of the dovish Janet Yellen to run the Fed (she won’t take over next year but there’s value in continuity), the Fed probably won’t announce it’s tapering its bond buying at its meeting this December, either. That would be why stocks and bonds actually rose on this morning’s bad news. 

The August performance was revised up, to 193,000 jobs, but the July performance was revised down, to a dismal 89,000 jobs, for a net increase of just 9,000. The impact of the federal government shutdown isn’t seen in this report, except inasmuch as it caused employers worried about uncertainty to hold off hiring in September; we’ll have to see the next couple jobs reports 

Interestingly, while federal-government employment dropped in August, as they have been slowly for the past couple years, overall government payrolls are up, by 22,000 jobs, because state and local governments are beginning to hire again. (Improvements in their budgets tend to lag the economy, because they have a limited ability to borrow, and rely on slow-to-recover revenues like real-estate taxes.) Of course, this actually makes the private-sector job market look worse — 148,000 jobs were added, but just 126,000 of those were in the private sector.

Another way to look at the BLS report is by earnings and hours of those actually employed, which offered mixed news: The length of the average workweek remained unchanged, but hourly earnings did rise slightly, by 3 cents.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More