DENVER – The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that 169,000 jobs were added during August, bringing the unemployment rate down to 7.3 percent.
But a deeper look at the numbers reveals a weakening economy that is worrying analysts across the ideological spectrum.
Revisions to the previous two month’s jobs data contained some of the most ominous signs for future economic growth. June’s number was cut from 162,000 to 104,000 while July’s was reduced to 172,000 from 188,000.
Perhaps worse, the number of people participating in the labor force dropped to 63.2 percent, the worst data in 35 years, according to a CNBC analysis.
In a statement, Congressman Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) said, “[t]oday’s unemployment numbers are nothing short of depressing for the millions of Americans still looking for work. If the labor force participation rate was at the same level as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be over ten percent.”
And despite the one-tenth of a percent down-tick in the unemployment rate, “[that] number [shows] 312,000 people dropping out of the labor force. That’ll be revised, but if the truth is anywhere close, it’s horrible,” the Washington Post’s liberal policy wonk, Ezra Klein, said on his blog.
There was an increase in part-time employment as well, painting a picture of workers taking a paycheck wherever they can find one. The number of part-time jobs increased 211,000, a 1.1 percent increase.
Those in the financial services field were unimpressed by weak economic data, and will be watching the Fed closely for its analysis of the jobs numbers and future plans to taper its bond buying program.
“Today’s report paints a picture for the labor market that is not as rosy as most has expected,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.
A slew of weak economic data, especially if that trend is not reversed by 2014, could spell midterm trouble for Democrats in competitive races. Observers note the possibility of Republicans attaching Andrew Romanoff (D-Aurora) and Mark Udall (D-Eldorado Springs) to the President’s weak economic performance.
Generation Opportunity, a non-partisan youth advocacy group, published its own data shortly after the BLS Jobs Report.
By including workers who have given up looking for a job, the group’s Millennial Jobs Report puts the effective unemployment rate among 18-29 year olds at 16 percent.
“The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs,” according to the group’s press release.
Generation Opportunity’s numbers echo the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment trends among minorities. Nearly 21.6 percent of blacks are unemployed, 12.8 percent of hispanics, and 10.8 percent of women, all within the 18-29 percent millennial age range.
“As the summer draws to a close, young people are no better off than we were three months ago. Practically all of the jobs created this summer were part-time, and precious few even went to young people,” concluded Evan Feinberg, President of Generation Opportunity.
All of these groups constitute a significant portion of the Democratic Party’s base. Mid-term elections after a president’s second election are notoriously disastrous. And high unemployment among the President’s supporters could keep them away from the polls.
But politicos are looking to Governor Hickenlooper as the biggest loser in the wake of weak economic data.
The governor’s support for a billion dollar tax increase at a time of a weakening economy likely won’t help him with voters examining his economic record.
That tax increase, along with the recall of two highly unpopular democrat legislators, and the Governor’s de facto pardon of a convicted murderer could spell trouble for Hick in 2014.
Pollster Floyd Ciruli explained on his blog on Thursday that, “conventional wisdom says John Hickenlooper can’t be beat by the current Republican field, he is vulnerable, and if the Republican Party had a viable candidate, he could be in a tough race.”
“This represents a major reversal for Hickenlooper from his popularity as mayor of Denver and his first two years as governor when he was seen as a moderate, highly approved by independents and liked by large numbers of Republicans” Ciruli concluded.