Now that the Government is Running Again, we can Officially Tell you About September Unemployment…

7.2% unemployment! Woohoo! We should be popping champagne corks, right? Anybody?

The Department of Labor’s monthly jobs report for September – which should have come out on the first Friday in October – was delayed until practically November because, well, the government was closed.

So was it worth the wait? Depends who you ask. The fact that unemployment hit 7.2% - its lowest level since November of 2008 – is certainly better than the rate increasing. The DOL is now estimating that we have averaged 143,000 new jobs over the as three months, compared to an average rate of job growth of 186,000 per months a year ago.

As we have said many times before, the declining rate is more indicative of people leaving the labor force because they can’t find employment (and have stopped looking) than because they can. The long-term unemployed (those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer) remains at 4.1 million. A big number, certainly, and this is actually a decline of 725,000 over the past year.

Which, again, probably means that a substantial number of those long-term unemployed ran through their benefits, and stopped looking for jobs, thereby leaving the labor force.

Who’s doing comparatively “well” in the recovery? Surprisingly, in September at least, it was people without even a high school degree who dropped a full percentage point to 10.3% unemployment in September.

“This is also likely due to the aging of the population since older workers disproportionately lack high school degrees,” writes Dean Baker Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. (CEPR) “The strong relative gains by workers with the least education does not easily fit with accounts of the economy increasingly demanding higher-skilled workers.”

As always, JVSWorks steers you to the full DOL report and do Mr. Baker’s invaluable – if rarely rosy – perspective on said report.

“On the whole, this is not a very encouraging report,” Baker concludes. “It reinforces the notion that the economy had slowed in the third quarter. This is before any negative effects of the shutdown.”

And we’ll learn what if any discernible effects the shutdown had on jobs in November which is just a few short days away.