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Jill Schlesinger: Reason to smile today, but jobs crisis far from over

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The September jobs report is out and it was better than last month, when I complained that President Obama blew it on jobs. The Labor Department said the U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs last month (and the previous two months were revised higher by 99,000), the unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent and 14 million Americans are still out of work.

Before we all get too excited about the report, let’s be clear: there is still a jobs crisis in America. Since April, there have been an average of 72,000 jobs per month created, a level that isn’t strong enough to keep pace with new entrants to the workforce. We need to see 200,000-250,000 new jobs created consistently to put a dent in the unemployment rate.

Additionally, the unemployment rate has been 9 percent or higher in every month but two since the recession ended in June 2009. That’s the longest such stretch since World War II and nearly one-third of the unemployed — nearly 4.5 million people — have had no job for a year or more. That’s a record high and more than double the previous peak after the 1981-82 recession.

What’s going to move the needle on job creation? I think the answer lies in confidence. According to Brian Hamilton, CEO of Sageworks – a financial information and research company, “privately-held companies, which create up to 80 percent of new jobs, are selling more this year – sales are up for these companies by approximately 5-6 percent over last year.” Yet, they are still not hiring in big numbers. Hopefully, as sales increase and global uncertainty diminishes, they will get more comfortable and start creating jobs.

Until that time, the September report puts pressure on Congress to act on President Obama’s $447 billion “American Jobs Act,” which Senate Democratic propose should be paid for with 5.6 percent surtax on incomes of more than $1 million a year to pay for the job-creation plan. I wondered just how some of the millionaires felt about that tax and was surprised to hear the following comments from a few of the rich folks that I know:

All three of these people work on Wall Street, which may be of interest to the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Maybe the one percent is more willing to step up to the plate than we think.

September Jobs Report:

Jill Schlesinger is editor-at-large for CBS/Moneywatch. Listen to her Morning Report interview for more analysis, and visit her CBS blog for more coverage.

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