The U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs in September, according to the Labor Department’s latest Employment Situation report. However, the jobless rate remained at 9.1 percent, the same as in August.
Many Americans do not understand how the nation’s employers could add more than 100,000 workers to their payrolls last month, yet the jobless rate was unchanged.
But the explanation actually is simple, according to the Labor Department. It takes approximately 125,000 newly-created jobs each month to keep pace with the growth in the nation’s labor pool.
So, though the economy added, rather than lost, jobs in September, there actually was a net decline in overall employment in the U.S. – the percentage of working-age Americans with jobs.
The inability of the economy to consistently create enough jobs each month to keep up with the expanding workforce explains why the unemployment rate has been 9 percent or higher 27 of the past 29 months.
In a recent blog post, former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted, “Since the start of the Great Recession at the end of 2007, America’s potential labor force – that is working-age people who want jobs – has grown by over 7 million.”
Over the same span, he continued, “the number of Americans who actually have jobs has shrunk by more than 300,000.” It’s the “worst economic calamity” to befall the United States, said Reich, a public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, “since the Great Depression.”
The latest Labor Department jobs numbers provide support for Reich’s assertion.
Some 14 million Americans are counted as unemployed. Another 9.3 million are working part-time, but would rather work full-time. And 2.5 million more Americans have simply stopped looking for work.
A recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia suggests that the nation’s job crisis is not going to improve any time soon. Forecasters predicted that the unemployment rate is unlikely to fall below 7 percent until at least 2015.
The New York Times put that in historical perspective Sunday, noting that, from 1995 to 2007, the nation’s jobless rate exceeded 6 percent for only a single five-month period – in 2003 – and it never was higher than 7 percent.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to make its case that the best way to improve the nation’s job climate is to pass the president’s proposed jobs bill.
“Independent forecasters estimate that the American Jobs Act will create as many as 1.9 million jobs,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Friday, in a statement. “That’s more than 150,000 additional jobs a month.”