The so-called misery index is both a “deathgrind” band from Baltimore and a measure of troubling economic times.
George W. Bush and his father share more than a last name. Reports show that August’s unemployment rate increased past the level initially forecast, rising to 6.1 percent. But even more disturbing is the fact that the misery index—unemployment aggregated with inflation—also soared to its highest level since 1991, when George H.W. Bush was in office.
The U.S. lost more jobs than forecast in August and the unemployment rate climbed to a five-year high of 6.1 percent, a sign that the economic slowdown is worsening two months before Americans elect their next president.
Payrolls fell by 84,000 in August, and revisions added another 58,000 to job losses for the prior two months, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The increase in the jobless rate sent the misery index, which adds unemployment to inflation, to 11.7 percent, the highest level since 1991.
Treasuries gained as some traders bet the Federal Reserve’s next move will be to cut interest rates, rather than raise them, and stocks sank. Today’s figures increase the risk that President George W. Bush will become the first president since Richard Nixon to oversee two recessions, and may hurt fellow Republican John McCain’s campaign to succeed him.