Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in July

The American economy gained 157,000 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 a sluggish 67,000 jobs. The headline unemployment rate declined to 3.9 percent for solid reasons: the size of the labor force stayed about the same, but the number of people without jobs declined by an impressive 284,000.

Wages of production and nonsupervisory workers were up at an annualized rate of 1.7 percent. Unfortunately, the latest CPI report shows inflation running at an annualized rate of 1.5 percent, which means workers saw only a minuscule pay raise. Looking at the entire past year, hourly wages increased 2.7 percent while inflation has increased 2.8 percent. Over the past twelve months average worker wages have been dead flat.

This is the new normal: decent but not great job growth, and no wage growth at all for blue-collar workers. An awful lot of people seem to think this is a sign of an economy that’s continuing to do great, but that’s not how it looks to me. It looks to me like a 21st century version of stagflation, where economic growth is OK but blue-collar workers are just dog-paddling along.

Over the past two years, blue-collar wages have increased 0.3 percent annually. That’s $150 per year—about the cost of a replacement pair of work boots. I guess you can decide for yourself if that’s the sign of a robustly growing economy.

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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