Math Is Hard: +96,000 – 368,000 Jobs = Journalist Seeing ‘Good News’ in US Job Report

Posted by Rob Zurrer for Money Talks

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MSNBC broadcasts often have a “Twilight Zone” feel to them, but seldom more so than the Sept. 7, “Morning Joe.” Joe Scarborough and friends reaction to the “weak” August jobs report was enthusiasm.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that morning that only 96,000 jobs were created, after120,000 jobs were expected. The BLS also revised June and July numbers downward. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, which might sound good until you learn that it “came primarily because the labor force participation rate fell to 63.5 percent, its worst level in more than 30 years,” according to 

CNBC also noted that 368,000 people dropped out of the workforce in August. found that the number of people not in the labor force last month hit a record high of 88,921,000.

But somehow this distressing employment news was seen positively on MSNBC. 

Ed Note: The latest jobs report came out today with the Labor Department reporting that nonfarm payrolls (jobs) increased by a mere 96,000 in August. This chart puts the latest data into perspective by plotting each monthly gain and loss in nonfarm payrolls since 1980. As today’s chart illustrates, the monthly gain in jobs has been less robust over the past two years than has typically occurred during expansionary periods. Today’s chart also illustrates that the gains in jobs in August were slightly below the average monthly gain since 1980.

Chart Courtesy of Chart of the Day


The crowd in background of MSNBC morning show cheered loudly  (at 50 second mark) for 96,000 jobs, the lowest labor force participation since Sept. 1981.