In the final government jobs report before Election Day, the economy added 161,000 jobs in October, less than the 175,000 jobs economic forecasters expected.
The unemployment rate stood still at 4.9 percent.
“This is a direct result of the Clinton-Obama trade policies that have outsourced entire industries overseas.”
It may seem like good news for the Democratic administration and their heir apparent, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. But the numbers show dark clouds on the horizon.
For one, manufacturing employment is at 8.6 percent of total jobs, a record low, according to Alan Tonelson, founder of the RealityChek blog and an economic policy analyst.
The jobs increase was mediocre at best, he said.
The Obama administration has struggled to help the private sector consistently create more than 200,000 jobs a month, and has only rarely seen creation of more than 300,000 total jobs a month.
Indeed, when President Obama took office, they unveiled a stimulus plan as the Great Recession was winding down in mid-2009. Obama won approval of more than $800 billion in “stimulus spending.”
Vice President Joe Biden was giddy about the stimulus and Obama’s leadership. On April 23, 2010, Biden promised a steady creation of between 250,000 and 500,000 jobs a month.
“All in all, we’re going to be creating somewhere between 100[,000] and 200,000 jobs next month, I predict,” Biden said, according to a pool report. “Well, I’m here to tell you, some time in the next couple of months, we’re going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month.”
But that didn’t happen. Obama won re-election in 2012 with one of the highest unemployment rates since any president going back to World War II.
The recovery remains weak. The Congressional Research Service reported in July that the recovery is the slowest since 1949.
And labor participation continues to sour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 94,609,000 Americans are not in the labor force, 425,000 more than last month’s report, and the second highest number ever recorded, according to CNS News. The unemployment rate only measures people in the workforce, or people trying to find a job.
People who have given up and dropped out of the workforce are not counted. It gives Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump an opening in the closing days of the election.
One problem is manufacturing is still in a “jobs recession,” and has been since 2014, despite better numbers elsewhere in Friday’s report, Tonelson said. Trump has been running on a platform of more manufacturing work, better trade deals, and improved wages.
But wages are probably the best news in the report, Tonelson said. They are up 2.8 percent after years of wage stagnation. Tonelson said that could be a sign that more experienced workers are getting raises that are higher than normal.
During the recession and the slow recovery, less experienced and less-paid workers were laid off. This could be distorting the wage picture a bit, he said.
The numbers show mediocrity elsewhere too. Sixteen thousand of the new 141,000 private-sector jobs are temporary, according to Curtis Ellis, executive director of the American Jobs Alliance.
“The Clinton-Obama economy still fails to create jobs that support middle-class families,” said Ellis. “This is a direct result of the Clinton-Obama trade policies that have outsourced entire industries overseas.”