National unemployment rate falls below 6 percent for first time since summer of 2008 | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 3, 2014

National unemployment rate falls below 6 percent for first time since summer of 2008

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 8:15 AM

click to enlarge IN THE WAKE OF DISASTER: After peaking in late 2009, the unemployment rate has fallen steadily. - VIA MADDOW BLOG
  • Via Maddow Blog
  • IN THE WAKE OF DISASTER: After peaking in late 2009, the unemployment rate has fallen steadily.

The jobs report released today by the U.S. Department of Labor brings good news, with nonfarm payrolls growing by 248,000 jobs in September. Meanwhile, the numbers for July and August were revised upwards significantly (more than 31,000 for July; more than 38,000 for August). The work week is up slightly to 34.6 hours. The unemployment rate is now 5.9 percent, the lowest it's been in more than six years. 

University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers notes that today marks the first time the nation has ever recorded a four-year straight period of positive employment growth (Wolfers also notes, as Paul Krugman surely will today, that even with strong growth and falling unemployment, there is no sign of the surge in inflation that debt alarmists have been predicting for years, all the while demanding a counterproductive focus on spending cuts throughout the economic downturn).

Wage growth is still stagnant and folks like Wolfers and Krugman would surely argue that growth could be stronger with better policy on both the fiscal and monetary side. Still, this is clearly extremely good news. And remember when Republicans said Obamacare would ruin the economy? sure as hell hasn't happened yet.

Will the good economic news help Democrats, or incumbents generally? Not necessarily. I'm seeing a lot of predictions like this, from ABC News Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny: 

click to enlarge jobs_tweet.png

Politics aside, this certainly counts as hopeful news, as the country continues its frustratingly slow (but accelerating, and potentially looking more and more robust) recovery from the depths of the Great Recession. 

And speaking of politics, cue the conservative conspiracy theorists in 3, 2, 1... 

After the jump, more charts and graphs!

Via Dan Diamond of the Daily Briefing, the economy has gained 9.8 million jobs since the low point of the recession: 


Via Wolfers:

click to enlarge wolfers.png

And via Alyssa Davis, of the Economic Policy Institute, who notes that the "jobs gap" is still more than 6 million people. We're adding jobs, but we're also adding more people, and the economy is still trying to catch up in the wake of the disaster of the Great Recession. There is still "slack" in the economy — more than 6 million potential workers who might be looking for work if there were more job opportunities. 


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