Nonfarm payroll jobs advanced 214,000 in October after gaining 256,000 September and 203,000 in August. Net revisions for August and September were up 31,000. The unemployment rate dipped to 5.8 percent in October from 5.9 percent in September. So why were Tuesday's voters so pessimistic about the economy and jobs?
Job creation in October marked the ninth straight month the economy has added 200,000 jobs or more, a feat last accomplished in 1994. The U.S. has created some 2.3 million jobs this year and is on track for the biggest gain in almost a decade. What's more, job openings recently hit a 13-year high while layoffs have fallen to the lowest level since the turn of the century, says Marketwatch.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell again as more than half a million people found work, according to a survey of households. And another 400,000-plus joined the labor force, a good sign because it means people think more jobs are available.
But wages are rising 2 percent per year, which is just keeping up with inflation. And the U-6 measure of so-called underemployed is stuck at 11 percent, which includes not just those who are unemployed, but those who are "marginally attached" to the workforce as well as those who want a full-time job but can only work a part-time job.
These are some of the reasons that voters were unhappy at last Tuesday's election. Exit polls after Tuesday's midterm elections showed that just one-third of Americans think the economy is getting better, and an even larger number believe the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction.
Goods-producing jobs increased 28,000 in October after a 36,000 gain the month before. Manufacturing employment increased 15,000 in October, following a rise of 9,000 in September. Motor vehicles and parts rebounded 3,000, after slipping 1,000 the month before. Construction advanced 12,000 after a gain of 19,000 in September. Mining edged up 1,000 in October, following an 8,000 rise in September. Private service-providing jobs gained 181,000 after a 208,000 boost in September. Strength again was seen in professional and business services and retail trade.
The question is why Republicans won such a crushing victory, when several times since the 2009 end of the Great Recession, Republican anti-government policies almost drove us back into recession. In 2011, Republicans took the government to the brink of default on its debt (and S&P downgrade of U.S. debt), which led to an agreement with Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to cut spending, by automatically sequestering funds if necessary.
A year ago, the Republicans again forced the issue with a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government, which led to another agreement with the Democrats on spending cuts.
So now that they control both the House and Senate, and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says they will no longer be shutting down government, they will have to find a way to work with the Democrats to lose their 'no compromise' past.
The problem is Republicans have been wrong on every economic issue that would improve lives -- from budget deficits to health care, from tax cuts to public infrastructure spending, environmental safeguards, Dodd-Frank financial regulation; not to speak of their war on contraception, voters' rights, and collective bargaining that would raise workers' income -- you name it.
They have literally been wrong on every issue that keeps this economy afloat. It is an abysmal record of economic ignorance. How will they change their ways when government wasn't the problem?
Harlan Green © 2014