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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Unemployment Rate Dips Below 8 Percent

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Posted on Oct 5, 2012
Loozrboy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A drop in the nation’s jobless rate gives President Obama an occasion to speak grandly about the prospect of America’s future under his leadership. But crucial information is missing.

In keeping with expectations, the U.S. added 114,000 jobs in September. The surprise decline in the unemployment rate emerged when August’s disappointing number was revised upward from a gain of 96,000 jobs to 142,000. The increase helped lower the overall unemployment rate from 8.1 to 7.8 percent.

“Today, I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again,” Obama told a crowd at a campaign stop in Fairfax, Va., shortly after the figures were released Friday. “This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office.”

The New York Times reports that the private sector created 104,000 positions, while government jobs increased by 10,000 and construction added 5,000. But reports have so far been unclear as to what incomes the new jobs provide. If they bring less than the median wage of roughly $50,000 a year, then the news might not be the cause for celebration that the administration wants the public to believe it is.

Reports also fail to say whether the decrease in the unemployment rate was at all a result of some people giving up the search for work. It has dipped artificially in the past, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts only people who are actively looking for work among those eligible to be considered unemployed.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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