UNEMPLOYMENT HITS 9.7%, BUT FEWER JOB LOSSES IN AUG…. In anticipation of the August unemployment numbers, the expectations were that the economy would shed 230,000 jobs and the unemployment rate would increase to 9.5%. As it turns out, the job numbers were slightly better than expectations, and the unemployment rate was slightly worse.


Employers eliminated 216,000 jobs in August even as the larger economy showed signs of turning around, suggesting that while the pace of job losses continues to slow, American workers will still be among the last to benefit from a recovery.

The unemployment rate, which dipped in July as Americans left the work force and stopped looking for jobs, resumed its climb last month, rising to 9.7 percent from 9.4 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday in its monthly snapshot of the job market.

Obviously, losing 216,000 jobs in a month is awful news. It’s worth noting, however, that this is the best month for jobs the U.S. has had since August 2008 — 12 months ago.

If we include those who are working part-time but want full-time employment, or those who’ve simply given up — the U6 measure — the overall rate in 16.8%. It is, not surprisingly, the highest it’s been since the government began keeping track in 1994.

Note: This is a homemade chart, updated to reflect the revised figures from June and July.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.