This week saw the first presidential debate. The main topic was the economy, but we heard more about Big Bird than jobs or the foreclosure crisis. Also missing: President Obama, who was more present on stage with Eastwood in Tampa than with Romney in Denver. It wasn't a bad metaphor for the last three years: one side lying about tax cuts and deficits, the other defensive and unwilling to fight for its own job-creating policies. The election narrative shifted again on Friday when the latest jobs report showed a drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent. Republicans screamed fraud, with no basis in reality. But lest we pop the champagne too soon, remember that at the present rate of 114,000 jobs added a month, it would take over a decade to reach full employment. A celebration based on such meager numbers underscores just how badly we need a real debate on the economy.
Payrolls grew by 114,000 last month and the unemployment rate ticked down significantly to 7.8 percent, according to today's jobs report from the BLS. That's the lowest unemployment rate since January of 2009. Moreover, unlike last month's report, September's decline in the unemployment rate was due to more job seekers finding work, not giving up and leaving the labor market. Both July and August's jobs numbers were revised up significantly such that in the third quarter of the year, payrolls grew by 146,000 per month on average, a notable acceleration over the second quarter's growth pace of only 67,000 jobs per month. All told, this report and the revisions paint a considerably better labor market picture than the last few reports. We're not yet out of the labor market woods, and I'd like to see us moving more quickly, but we're on the right path.