Weird Reactions to September Jobs Report

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is defending his statement about Obama cooking the books on the September Jobs report. But – as Reason Magazine’s Tim Cavanaugh points out – Welch still didn’t provide evidence of any actual cooking. Instead he just reminded everyone of what seemed so self-evident only a month ago: that the economy is performing unimpressively, despite the jobs report.

Recall, after the August jobs report showed a two point drop in unemployment (from 8.3% to 8.1%), pundits on the left and the right generally agreed it wasn’t because of a sudden or trending improvement in the economy. The drop in unemployment was mostly explained by a drop in labor force participation (which would signal a worsening economy).

Now, the September jobs report shows a partial rebound in labor force participation over August AND another – bigger – drop in unemployment (from 8.1% down to 7.8%). This might indicate a booming economy, if it weren’t so obvious that the economy isn’t booming.

Alas, labor force participation is still at its lowest point in thirty years. Jobless claims were up again in September. We continue to shed jobs in the manufacturing sector. And where there has been large job growth – in the healthcare sector – it is more likely thanks to new ObamaCare regulations than any economic improvement. What’s more, with the July and August numbers adjusted upwards, September actually marks a three month low for job growth amid a three year low for GDP growth.

Yet, after the September jobs report, there seems to be a split. No longer do these awkward unemployment numbers belie an economy still sputtering along. Instead, the September report is, alternatively, a huge boost for Obama OR a product of the Obama Administration gaming the numbers to help his re-election bid.

The economic reality hasn’t changed. How did the storyline?

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