September jobs report: U.S. economy adds 114,000 jobs; rate falls to 7.8%
In a politically charged report, the U.S. economy added 114,000 new jobs in September, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor, and the official unemployment rate fell to 7.8%. It was 8.1% the previous month.
The official unemployment rate had been above 8% for 43 consecutive months. Ironically, 7.8% is where the official unemployment rate stood in January of 2009, when President Obama took office.
Various forecasts had pegged August job creation at more than 100,000, including Bloomberg (115,000) and ADP (162,000).
Economists say the economy must create at least 150,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with changes in population and the labor market, and it must create about 250,000 new jobs each month to quickly bring down the unemployment rate.
Also in August, the Labor Force participation rate was 63.6%, up one-tenth of a point from the August rate that represented a 30-year low.
This is the second-to-last monthly jobs report before the Nov. 6 presidential election, and both reports are likely to provide fodder for the respective candidates – President Obama because the official unemployment rate has dropped five percentage points in the past two months, and Republican Mitt Romney because many unemployed people have become discouraged and left the workforce.
The President's critics already are firing away, claiming that payrolls increased by only 114,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate fell primarily because more people took part-time work.