The Corner

Two Bright Spots in an Anemic Jobs Report

The unemployment rate climbed to 9.6 percent as a result of many new entrants into the labor market (about half a million workers). This increase offset the July decline in the labor force, and it indicates that the weak July report was more statistical noise than a new downward trend.

Adult males accounted for two-thirds of these entrants, while the labor force participation rate for women remained flat. The problem is that only about half of these new entrants were able to find work, as private-sector jobs remain scarce. This is another rather anemic jobs report and indicative of the slow, painful climb to recovery.

Private-sector jobs increased by 67,000, while 114,000 temporary census jobs disappeared. The temporary census jobs make the usual job-creation number worthless, since they can cause an artificial increase in the number of jobs created in the spring and an artificial decline in jobs in the summer months. Excluding the census jobs, the number of federal and local government workers increased while the number of state workers declined.

There are two big bright spots: the average hours worked and temporary employment numbers. The average number of weekly hours worked climbed to 33.5 hours. That’s the highest level since October 2008, except for May of this year when the labor market was growing much more robustly. Last month, temporary services declined, which was worrying. This month’s report shows modest growth in temporary services and makes the July downturn seem like a statistical blip. These are both positive indicators that employment will continue expanding, albeit at this very modest pace.

The manufacturing sector had job losses for the first time this year, but construction increased hiring for one of the few months since the real estate collapse in 2007. As usual, most of the private-sector hiring was in health care, which accounted for twice as many new job opportunities as any other sector.

The August report was better than the July jobs report but not by much. While the increased hiring and the increase in temporary services is a positive sign, job growth is likely to remain sluggish. Businesses are reluctant to add new permanent employees as they are uncertain about the overall economy and the impact of the tax increases and new regulations scheduled for next year.

Rea Hederman is senior policy analyst in the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis.

Most Popular

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
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More