The morning after President Obama appealed to America to just hang in there with him because an economic revival was on the way, reality reared its ugly head.
The monthly report from the Labor Department showed that the U.S. gained 96,000 jobs in August, about half of what’s needed just to keep pace with population growth. The long stall gets longer, with nary a sign of hope.
The unemployment rate notched its 43rd month above 8%, and there was pessimism even in its fall from 8.3% to 8.1%. That slight decline was mainly the result of people giving up on the search for work as hopeless.
Obama’s campaign quickly updated its calculations to note that, with August’s figures, the country has gained 4.6 million jobs over the last 30 months. But, cheery presentation notwithstanding, this is anything but encouraging.
With 13 million people out of work, the country is growing jobs at barely a crawl, and the rate has been slowing. In January, the economy added a more healthy 275,000 positions, almost triple the latest number.
In the deepest doldrums are the construction and manufacturing sectors, usually considered sources of solid employment for workers who may not have advanced degrees.
Labor force participation — the percentage of the population over 16 that’s working — fell yet again, to a 31-year low of 63.7%.