Another one of those anomolies which makes the unemployment rate look better than it is. The rate as calculated drops when people drop out of the work force because they no longer are counted as unemployed.
So while the media and Obama campaign probably will try to spin the drop as a good thing, in this environment it is a sign of weakness, particularly considering that fewer than 100,000 new jobs were created.
From the BLS report this morning (which Obama would have known about before his speech last night):
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 96,000 in August, and the unemployment rate edged down to 8.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in food services and drinking places, in professional and technical services, and in health care.
The unemployment rate edged down in August to 8.1 percent. Since the beginning of this year, the rate has held in a narrow range of 8.1 to 8.3 percent. The number of unemployed persons, at 12.5 million, was little changed in August. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.6 percent), adult women (7.3 percent), teenagers (24.6 percent), whites (7.2 percent), blacks (14.1 percent), and Hispanics (10.2 percent) showed little or no change in August. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.9 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
In August, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.0 million. These individuals accounted for 40.0 percent of the unemployed. (See table A-12.)
Both the civilian labor force (154.6 million) and the labor force participation rate (63.5 percent) declined in August. The employment-population ratio, at 58.3 percent, was little changed. (See table A-1.)
Even NPR felt the need to note the statistical anomoly:
Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate edged down to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent the month before. Often, the jobless rate dips even when employment growth is weak because the size of the labor force shrank as many Americans gave up looking for work.
Put today’s report in the context of last night’s vitriolic speeches, by Biden in particular, and you realize the complete disconnect this administration has to reality.
Update: James Pethokoukis notes:
– If the labor force participation rate was the same as when Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.2%.
– If the participation rate had just stayed the same as last month, the unemployment rate would be 8.4%.