Perfect Jobs Report?

After all the recent stock market craziness, attributable in part to angst over the long-awaited tiny boost in interest rates by the Fed, you had to anticipate the August Jobs Report with very mixed feelings. Anything too good would make the rate increase all-but-certain, sending the markets into another swoon.

So I guess the actual report was about all you could hope for: net job gains of 173,000 jobs, a good 20-30k below most economists’ expectations, and likely to generate “job growth slows” headlines (BLS also revised the June and July jobs numbers upward by a total of 44,000, making the August numbers look even more paltry). On the other hand, the official unemployment rate dropped to 5.1%, which doesn’t mean a lot to investors, but will matter to voters next year, particularly if the rate drops below 5%, which now appears very likely. There were also small increases in wages, but not enough to justify the ever-ready inflation fears to emerge.

We’ll see if this threads the needle with the markets and/or the Fed. Real shame we have so little control over the direction of our economy.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.