Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in August

The American economy gained 201,000 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 fairly decent 111,000 jobs. The unemployment rate stayed flat at 3.9 percent. However, the number of people with jobs declined by 423,000; the number of unemployed workers barely changed; the labor force fell by nearly half a million; and the labor participation rate dropped from 62.9 percent to 62.7 percent. Overall, this is a pretty mediocre jobs report.

Wages of production and nonsupervisory workers were up at an annualized rate of 3.9 percent. Not bad! Inflation is running at 2.9 percent right now, so this represents a real pay raise of about 1 percent.

It’s hard to know what to think of this report. The jobs increase isn’t bad, but the rest of it ranged from mediocre to lousy. Blue-collar wages were up, but we’ve seen good months before followed immediately by bad ones. Even with August’s nice wage number, wage growth for the previous 12 months is 2.8 percent, slightly below the inflation rate. We’ll need many more months of high growth before we put together a solid year.

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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