The new jobs report is out and its the best in four years: unemployment has now dropped to 7.8 percent:
The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The rate fell because more people found work, a trend that could impact the presidential election.
The Labor Department says employers added 114,000 jobs in September. The economy also created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than first estimated. Wages rose in September and more people started looking for work.
The revisions show employers added 146,000 jobs per month from July through September, up from 67,000 in the previous three months. The unemployment rate fell from 8.1 percent in August, matching its level in January 2009 when President Barack Obama took office.
The nation’s employers added 114,000 jobs in September, a modest showing that was less than the previous month. But the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent.
August’s jobs gain was revised up to 142,000 from the originally reported 96,000.
The private sector, which has been adding jobs since March 2010, grew by 104,000 workers. Governments, where cuts have been a drag on the recovery, added 10,000 jobs in September.
Manufacturing, one of the bright spots that President Obama has showcased throughout the re-election campaign, fell 16,000 jobs after losing a revised 22,000 in August, and construction jobs grew by 5,000. The number of temporary jobs, a harbinger of future growth, fell 2,000.
The unemployment rate dropped even though the number of people in the labor force, including those looking for work, increased. It was the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009, the month Mr. Obama took office.
Coming a month before the presidential election, the jobs report offered ammunition for both sides as the candidates vie to convince voters that each is better equipped to steer the economy. Mr. Obama can point to the 24th straight month of job growth after a severe financial crisis, while Republicans continue to criticize the glacial pace of the improvement.
And today you’ll be able to go to websites and know before you get there which argument they’ll be passionately making depending on which candidate they favor.
But it is a significant drop in unemployment, and Talking Points Memo provides the political context:
Despite a modest topline payroll figure, the report is filled with positive metrics — most visibly that the unemployment rate plummeted from 8.1 to 7.8 percent, exactly where it was when President Obama took office, amid the 2008 and 2009 economic collapse. In past months, reductions in the unemployment rate have been attributed to a shrinking workforce, but the September report indicates a 418,000 person increase in labor force participation.
The initial figures come less than 48 hours after the first presidential debate in Denver — a development that’s likely to overshadow third day stories about President Obama’s underwhelming performance. It’s also the first employment report since the Federal Reserve announced a new, open-ended round of monetary stimulus last month.
UPDATE: Here we go again.
When Barack Obama started leading in polls some Republicans including Rush Limbaugh suggested it was all part of a big plot by the “liberal media” (including Fox News apparently, owned by the noted liberal activist Rupert Murdoch). But when Mitt Romney won the debate and CNN and CBS polls came out, these same Republicans had no qualms about the accuracy of those polls. And if new polls show Romney ahead, don’t look for Sean and Rush to say they are biased or use poor polling methods.
Now we see it happening with these new economic numbers: yes some Republicans are suggesting its all part of a political plot by the Obama administration.
If past patterns are any guide, tune into Sean, Rush and Fox News in coming days to hear more about how Obama, the Labor Department and the news media are all in cahoots to lie about job figures. But — again — there are no questions raised when figures come out showing unemployment hasn’t gone down, are there?
A political prediction: I truly believe this mentality is going to turn off a chunk of independent voters on election day. It is unprecedented in our politics — even in previous times of rank partisanship.
UPDATE II: It’s official. Now some Republicans argue that if the jobs figures go up this MUST be a conspiracy. I predict will greatly alienate a segment of voters who will not want to vote for a party that has people who if they do not fit the definition of “crackpots,” and most don’t,’ fit the definition of people who simply cannot gracefully accept it if something they are counting on politically — polls showing their candidate ahead, economic figures that don’t fit in with the narrative they hope they can press — will try and claim that it’s all a plot.
Our politics has not only jumped the shark with this new effort to discredit polls and job figures that some partisans prefer, it has jumped the ocean. If the Dems were smart they’d note these theories far and wide since there are many voters who will not able to be associated with this king of “thinking.”
I also need to add: there are MANY thoughtful conservative Republican pundits and bloggers. Listen and read them. Those that don’t go along with this mantra aren’t simply partisan robots but worth reading and listening to.
But here are theme songs for some of those who insist polls and job figures are part of a plot:
This one fits:
And this one fits.
hiring sign via shutterstock.com
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.