Sluggish job growth continues in October

There were low expectations going into this morning’s release of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The economy struggled to meet those expectations.

The economy added a total of 80,000 jobs in the month of October. In keeping with the pattern we’ve seen for a long while, the private sector fared significantly better, creating 104,000 jobs, while the public sector, which continues to be a significant drag on the economy, lost 24,000 jobs, thanks to spending cuts.

Republicans, it’s worth noting, are eager to force more public-sector layoffs, making the jobs landscape worse on purpose, while President Obama’s American Jobs Act seeks to do the opposite.

The overall unemployment rate ticked down, from 9.1% to 9%, due to statistical revisions. No one should see this as evidence of a good jobs report, which this isn’t.

Indeed, there can be no doubt that the latest data points to an ongoing jobs crisis. Just to keep up with population growth, the economy should be adding over 150,000 jobs a month. To bring down the unemployment rate quickly, we’d look for 300,000 jobs a month or more. October’s total of 80,000 suggests we’re struggling to keep our heads above water.

In a sane political environment, policymakers would see a jobs report like this one and feel the need to act. Instead, what we see are Democrats presenting a credible jobs agenda, and Republicans killing every bill brought to the floor.

If there’s a silver lining to the new report, it’s that the job totals for August and September were both revised sharply in an encouraging direction, with an additional 102,000 jobs between them that had been previously unreported. That’s a fairly big revision.

With two months remaining in 2011, we’ve now seen 1.25 million jobs created this year, which isn’t even close to good enough, but which has already surpassed the totals from 2010.

And with that, here’s the homemade chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction — red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.