The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly From September’s Jobs Report

The overall picture's looking better, but why hasn't joblessness become a real election issue?

By Imara Jones Oct 05, 2012

The September jobs report released this morning contained encouraging economic news for the Obama Administration in the closing weeks of this year’s election.

The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest level in three years. The economy added 114,000 last month.

In more welcome news for Obama, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the economy added 86,000 more jobs in July and August than previously estimated. All in all today’s data adds strength to the Administration’s "stick with us, we’re headed in the right direction" narrative.

While these top-line numbers suggest an improving economic situation, the broader jobs report reveals that the harsh reality for most Americans continues.

For blacks, Latinos, and youth the picture is far less optimistic and remained in economic-depression territory. 1 out 7 African-Americans, 1 out of ten Latinos and 1 out of 4 people between 16-19 is unemployed. These numbers are essentially unchanged from August.

The number of people looking for work, discouraged by five years of record joblessness, remains at its lowest level in almost thirty years. Since 2007, 9 million people have dropped out of the job force. If these Americans were still looking for work, today’s unemployment rate would be over 10 percent.

The percentage of underemployed Americans, those without work or at jobs at well below their skill level, is over 14 percent or, to translate, 18 million people.

In its totality, the jobs report underscores the curious absence of any at-length discussion of joblessness in Wednesday night’s presidential debate. Given that the economy is the number once concern of all Americans, the lack of presentation by the candidates of detailed plans during their exchange is almost unconscionable.

Sadly, regardless of who pundits crowned as the winner, we all lost.