The unemployment rate declined from 8.1% in August to 7.8% in September, with 114,000 jobs added last month, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There has been positive private-sector job growth for more than two and a half years. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says this morning’s jobs report:
confirms that the economy is finally beginning to build some momentum, as we work to dig out of the devastatingly deep hole that President Obama inherited from George W. Bush and a generation of flawed policies. Now we need the President and Congress to build on this momentum and keep their focus on job creation, including by passing the American Jobs Act.
The biggest numbers of the 114,000 jobs were in health care, transportation and warehousing. The number of unemployed persons, at 12.1 million, decreased by 456,000 in September.
Jobless rates for adult men stood at 7.3%; adult women, 7.0%; and white workers also at 7.0%, a decline for all three groups since August. Meanwhile, the unemployment rates for teenagers, 23.7%; African American workers, 13.4%; and Hispanics, 9.9%, showed little change from the previous month.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) dropped from 5 million to 4.8 million.
While unemployment has dropped steadily this year, economists say the pace would be quicker if not for the long track record of the Republicans in Congress blocking legislation aimed to grow the economy, like President Obama's American Jobs Act, which would have created some 1.9 million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute's (EPI's) Rebecca Thiess. Republicans have continued to obstruct policies that would create jobs and restore growth, while holding the middle class hostage to demands for more tax cuts to benefit the richest 2% of Americans.
Thiess points out President Obama’s job-creation policies—such as the Economic Recovery Act and the rescue of the auto industry—were enacted before Republicans seized control of the House. These policies “are responsible for the creation of millions of jobs in the aftermath of the Great Recession.”
She also notes that the American Jobs Act that Republicans blocked, would have dropped the jobless rate by a full percentage point.
Jobs and the economy were the focus of Wednesday's presidential debate and Trumka says the debate:
underscored that on November 6, we face a clear choice about the future of our country. The austerity and deep spending cuts proposed by Governor Romney will gut essential services and leave the most vulnerable worse off – all to pay for tax cuts for the richest 2%. In contrast, President Obama has laid out a concrete plan for shared prosperity policies based on investing in America and restoring our democracy. The labor movement is committed to the policies of ‘Prosperity Economics’ --- reforms that will unite and strengthen America by creating jobs, promoting economic security and rebuilding our democracy.