U.S. employers added 114,000 jobs in September. The Labor Department has also revised up the job gains in July and August. The bigger story this morning is that the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent. That's a genuine surprise to most economists, and it breaks the stubborn "eight percent" barrier that has been such a fixture in the presidential campaign.
Often in this sluggish recovery, the unemployment rate will seem to improve for the wrong reason: people quit looking for work. In September, though, people were actually re-entering the labor force, suggesting a genuine improvement in hiring. That much, we can objectively say. Beyond that -- it's in the eye of the beholder
Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist and current chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, shares his reaction to this morning's jobs report.
Alan Krueger: You know whenever the jobs report comes out, I try to take a step back, the numbers are volatile, it's good to put them in the context of the other numbers coming in. I think we see a picture of an economy that is healing or digging their way out of the worst recession since the great recession. Now over the last 31 months, we've added 5.2 million jobs...In September we actually saw over 400,000 more people join the labor force, the labor force participation rate ticked up, and in fact, if you look over the last year, the unemployment rate has fallen by 1.2 percentage points -- that's the biggest drop in unemployment over a 12-month period since 1995.
Economist Glenn Hubbard, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush and Romney campaign adviser has his own take.
Glenn Hubbard: The economy, at least looking at the job market, appears to be stuck in neutral -- it's not getting worse, it's not getting better...The unemployment rate did go below 8 percent due to a large increase in part time workers, but 40 percent of the jobless have been jobless for more than 26 weeks. This is not a healthy economy, but it is also not one that is getting much worse...The uncertainty that is in the economic environment and public policy no doubt, weighs on job creators...What worries me is that I don't see an environment and current policy that would raise growth enough to raise employment substantially in the country. If we are content with having growth in the one-two percent range -- this is exactly the kind of payroll employment report we'll get.