The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its latest jobs report on October 5 and confounded nearly everyone. The first part of the report, based on their survey of households, showed a surprising — even astonishing — rise of total employment in September approaching a million jobs (873,000, to be exact). But in the same breath the report noted that, based on their survey of businesses, only 114,000 new jobs were added, about in line with most economists’ expectations.
When taken together, the BLS said that the unemployment rate dropped by three-tenths of a percent, from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent.
This delighted Obama supporters who were still reeling from the beating their candidate received in the debate October 3 from Mitt Romney, who repeatedly used poor economic data, including continuing high unemployment numbers, to attack their candidate’s credibility.
Rex Nutting, writing for the usually neutral MarketWatch blog, said that the jobs report is the one “Obama has been waiting for” while costing Romney “one of [his] most salient talking points against President Obama.” He added:
The decline in the unemployment rate in September came for all the right reasons: Employment rose, unemployment fell, and the labor force increased. The employment-population ratio (the percentage of adults with a job) rose from 58.3% to 58.7%. The last time it was higher was in September 2009.…
In the household survey … employment rose by an incredible 873,000 in September, while unemployment fell by 456,000. The labor force increased by 206,000, so the decline in the unemployment rate wasn’t due to people just becoming too discouraged to look for a job.
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Photo: In this Aug. 17, 2012 file photo, Sheila Bird, right, waits in line for employment interviews at a job fair at City Target in Los Angeles: AP Images