The jobs numbers are out, and Big Media is focused on the traditional “unemployment” number — which is noticeably better, but which says very little about the actual state of employment in this country. The benchmark I consider the most important, the civilian participation rate, is still miserable, as Ed Morrissey notes:
Looking at the internals, there were few true bright spots, but at least it wasn’t as bleak as the last couple of months. The U-6 number, which captures unemployment and underemployment as well as the marginally attached, stayed the same as in August at 14.7%. The civilian population participation rate rose a tenth of a point to 63.6%, exactly where it was in the 1982 midterm election, and only missing the 31-year low set last month.
Note that says “civilian” population participation rate. Civilians aren’t doing so well. But you know who’s doing great, as we come into the final month before the election? Why, government workers!
The best news anywhere in the U.S. economy over the past three months has been in the government sector, where unemployment has dropped dramatically from 5.7 percent in July to 5.1 percent in August to 4.3 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Both the federal and state governments increased their employees in July, August and September.
The Obama administration has added 10,000 civilian workers to the federal government’s payroll since July, according to BLS. . . . The Obama administration has been able to accomplish a net increase in federal employees over the past three months even while the U.S. Postal Service–whose employees are considered part of the federal workforce–eliminated jobs and decreased its payroll.
Going a little deeper on the numbers themselves, they are very confusing and seemingly contradictory. Again, Ed Morrissey explains it well: “The number of unemployed dropped 456,000 last month, while only 114,000 jobs got added. That either means that 342,000 people left the US, or they left the work force in one way or another. In the household survey, though, the number of people with jobs rose by 873,000 — a very strange outcome that makes it appear that more than one tweak has been done to previous data.” Also, Morrissey says: “Some 582,000 Americans took part- time positions because of slack business conditions or those jobs were the only work they could find.”
Nevertheless, this not terribly encouraging news will be portrayed as simply wonderful news — and already is. After all, something has to be done to mitigate Obama’s dreadful debate performance.