Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in October

The American economy gained 261,000 jobs last month. We need 90,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth, which means that net job growth clocked in at 171,000 jobs. That’s not bad. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.1 percent—also not bad except that it was for the wrong reason: there are half a million fewer people employed this month compared to September, but nearly a million people dropped out of the labor force. The labor participation rate decreased substantially to 62.7 percent.

Because of the recent hurricanes, our best bet is probably to average the (revised) September and October figures. If you do that, we’ve added an average of 140,000 jobs per month over the past two months, barely enough to keep up with population growth. The labor force participation rate has declined 0.1 percent per month and about 300,000 people dropped out of the labor force each month. This is weak but not disastrous performance.

On the earnings front, hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees declined at an annual rate of 0.5 percent. Over the past two months, then, hourly earning have risen at an average rate of about 2.2 percent, which is just a little above inflation. Again, this is weak but not disastrous.

Overall, the past two months haven’t been great. We’ll see how things go over the holiday season.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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