Some Things About Those Jobs Numbers Today

On the first Friday of every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases their monthly jobs reports. Media organizations who cover business and economics love to talk about the numbers, and since everyone else covers it, I tend to stay out of it—but for other reasons too. Here’s the report for today:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 169,000 in August, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in retail trade and health care but declined in information.

Here’s a tweet from a producer from MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

Yes, that’s true, but without context that number is meaningless. Having the unemployment number drop without the economy adding a significant amount of jobs means that unemployed Americans are giving up looking for work. Here’s our pal Heidi Moore:

Also, that number reported by the bureau at the top? The 169,000 jobs added in August? It’s probably wrong, but we won’t know that until the next month. Last month, the BLS reported an increase of 162,000 jobs in the economy for July. Today, that number has been revised to 104,000. Here’s Washington Post columnist Neil Irwin:

More context: Today’s jobs report also shows a disproportionate growth in low-wage sectors like retail and fast food, which means the economy is adding jobs, but they’re not the kind of jobs that are going to support a family. Related: 100 Walmart workers and demonstrators have been arrested in 11 cities across the U.S. in rallies calling for higher pay.

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