With the news that the U.S. economy added just 142,000 jobs in August, which is quite a bit less than in the last few months, many economists took a positive approach and encouraged observers to take a step back and look at the big picture.
In each of the last six months, the economy had added more than 200,000 jobs — the first time since 1997 that had happened. So in that context, August’s numbers might be seen as an anomaly, rather than a sign of impending doom.
This outlook will be especially encouraged by Democrats, who don’t want to see any slipping in the economy just two months before a midterm election in which they expect to be hurt by a weakened President Barack Obama.
Last month, although the U.S. economy showed a gain of 209,000 in July, the unemployment rate still inched up to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent in June. That slight increase was attributed to the fact that more people were actively looking for work. In August, the reverse happened — the number of jobs fell while the unemployment rate also fell back to 6.1 percent, largely because fewer people were actively looking.
For African-Americans, the unemployment rate remained at 11.4 percent in August, the same rate it showed in July. The 11.4 percent rate represents a big increase from June, when it stood at 10.7 percent.
As usual, the rate for Blacks in August was much higher than that for whites (5.3 percent) or Hispanics (7.5 percent), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The rate for teens in August dropped slightly, from 20 percent in July to 19.6 percent in August.
Tim Hopper, chief economist at TIAA-CREF, was skeptical of the August numbers.
“I don’t believe the numbers,” he told The Washington Post. “Not only are they very weak, they just don’t match anything else that’s in the market right now.”
“The White House can continue to hype the recovery all it wants. The fact is that today’s disappointing jobs report represents a step backward,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said in a statement.
Despite today’s economic news, the economy is still adding an average of 215,000 jobs a month this year. That would mean job creation in 2014 was the best since 1999, the end of the Clinton administration.