July Jobs Report: Mixed Bag But Nothing To Scream About

So BLS says the economy added 163,000 net new jobs in July (seasonally adjusted, which is a very important distinction during the summer months)–172k in the private sector, reduced by a 9k loss in government jobs. Yet unemployment ticked up slightly to 8.3% (it actually rose less than the indicated one-tenth-of-a-percent but looked higher due to rounding). Adjustments to reports for May (upward) and June (downward) pretty much canceled each other out.

The jobs number, which came in well above the consensus prediction of 100k, is the best since February. It greatly diminishes the credibility of widespread Republican cheerleading for a double-dip recession prior to the election. But the stubbornly high unemployment rate, with which Americans are far more familiar than with job growth or GDP statistics, remains a big problem for Obama.

I would also guess that the better-than-expected jobs numbers will give the Fed the excuse it wants to do nothing to further stimulate the economy. That could matter much more than these numbers in the long run, don’t expect much of anyone to raise their eyes from the next two steps down the road between now and November.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.