Jobs Rose 214K in October While Unemployment Dropped, So Why Is The Nation So Mad?

Unemployment Rates Drop to 7.7 Percent, As Economy Adds More Jobs Than PredictedWhile the number of jobs in the U.S. rose by 214,000 in October and unemployment dropped down slightly to 5.8 percent, the real question across the nation is why Americans still feel unhappy and frightened about their economic fortunes.

Among African Americans, the unemployment number went down a bit, from 11 percent in September to 10.9 percent last month.

Hispanics also went down 0.1 percentage points to 6.8 percent, while Asians rose 0.7 percentage points to 5 percent. Whites went down o.3 percentage points to 4.8 percent, the lowest among any group.

But while economist wanted to hail the positive numbers, there’s no question that there’s a feeling sweeping the nation that many of these economic indicators fail to capture.

It’s a feeling that was all intertwined in the way voters reacted at the polls on Tuesday. Wages have stagnated in the U.S. for a long time as the cost of living rises steadily up, meaning the real wages of most Americans continue to go down. That’s a big reason why the ballot measures to raise the minimum wage in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, Illinois and South Dakota, mostly fairly conservative states, all passed even as Democrats in those states were hammered by the Republicans, who have tended to oppose minimum wage increases.

It’s also likely why the Democrats failed to see the surge in African-American and Hispanic turnout that they desperately needed.

“The path forward for Democrats seems straight,” Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, said in a press release. “In order to maximize support among core constituencies and reach further into the Republican hold on white voters, they must develop and promote a sharp vision of economic equality and greater opportunity for those left out of the recovery.”

“We are adding jobs, but it is still a wageless recovery,” Elise Gould, an economist with the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told the New York Times. “The economy may be growing but not enough for workers to feel the effects in their paychecks.”

Average hourly wages remain stuck, said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research, “which continues the downside pressure on real earnings growth after paying for food, gasoline and rent.”

Center for American Progress experts Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin say Americans are pessimistic, losing faith in government institutions and fearful about the economy. On Tuesday, they took out their frustration on Obama and his party—but they aren’t really any more optimistic that the Republicans will improve their fortunes.

The number of non-whites who voted Tuesday dropped to 25 percent from 28 percent in 2012—identical to the 3-point drop-off in “minority” representation between the 2008 and 2010 elections, according to the Center for American Progress, which says the minority drop-offs in both the 2010 and 2014 elections are larger than any drop-off recorded by the exit polls going back to the 1976–1978 period.

“Voters will rightly demand that the Republicans put forth some positive agendas for economic growth, jobs and wages, health care, and education,” said John Halpin, CAP Senior Fellow. “Yet it is unclear whether the internal ideological disputes within the party can be overcome over the next two years to put forth a new face of the party.”

Back to top