The U.S. economy finally received some good news on Friday, October 5, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation for September 2012, which showed that 114,000 jobs were created last month. This number was high enough to send the nation's unemployment rate down to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent in August.
The new data show employment growth in 2012 has averaged 146,000 per month, just under the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011. Last month, the healthcare and transportation and warehousing industries led the way in job creation.
The most basic numbers from the report are enough to give Americans a sigh of relief, but when looked at in detail, an even brighter picture emerges. According to the Daily Beast, taken all together, the information from the latest jobs report suggests the labor market is finally recovering. The economy has created new jobs for 24 consecutive months, and since February 2010, 4.7 million new jobs have been added.
Also, the often underreported revisions made to previous monthly employment reports have bolstered the number of jobs added last month substantially. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the precipitous decline in unemployment can also be traced back to the 86,000 new jobs that were originally uncounted in July and August, effectively driving last month's gains up to a total of 200,000. And if employment has been revised up for the past two months, it stands to reason that the 114,000 jobs that were officially added last month will also rise in the future.
What's more, the decline in the unemployment rate may not necessarily be the product of a drop in the number of people looking for work, which has been the case for many months of the year. The BLS report noted that the civilian labor force increased by 418,000 to 155.1 million in September, warding off rhetoric that the drop came from more people giving up on finding a job. Add an increase in the average wages for American workers, and it appears the labor market truly has found a solid footing.
According to the Daily Beast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses both a payroll-jobs figure in addition to a household survey, in which the BLS calls homes to ask if they've been working, if they've given up or if they've found part time work. In recent months, despite payroll growth, these surveys have shown declines in the size of the labor force and the employment-to-population ratio.
All this changed in September, with the survey finding that all the new entrants to the labor market were officially absorbed, with roughly 873,000 more people working last month than in August, with the employment-to-population ratio trending up from 58.3 to 58.7 last month.
News of the improving jobs landscape was good for everyone, including the White House.
"While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression," Alan Krueger, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said on the White House’s blog.
Still, with economists saying that a hearty employment picture would be a jobless rate of around 6 percent, many say the labor market can still be improved, according to The Washington Post.