It’s back above 400,000 according this Associated Press article, and I was one of them. Sorry. My bad.
However: “…the four-week average, a more reliable gauge of the job market, fell to the lowest level since mid-April.” So I suppose that is something.
According to the article the number of unemployed needs to fall below 375,000 to signal that the economy is improving. Why that number precisely? I have not a clue. I suppose it’s as good as any…
The report on weekly unemployment applications does provide some positive signs for hiring in August. Applications are lower than they were in mid-July, when they totaled 422,000.
Employers added 117,000 net jobs in July, roughly double the totals from each of the previous two months. The unemployment rate ticked down to 9.1 percent.
Talk about nickle and diming the numbers. I mean, seriously, are we supposed to get excited about a .1 percent drop in the unemployment rate, especially when it doesn’t really represent the real number of unemployed, since I’m pretty sure that it does not count people whose unemployment benefits have run out and those who have simply given up looking for work because they believe that there are not jobs out there for them as well as the undermployed? At all. Come on.
In that spirit the article also reports:
Other recent data show the economy gradually improved in July, after growing at annual rate of just 0.8 percent in the first six months of the year.
Consumers spent more on retail goods in July than in any month since March. And factory output rose in July by the most since the Japan crisis, a sign that supply chain disruptions caused by the March 11 earthquake could be fading.
Mildly encouraging at best. Or maybe I’m guilty of being cynical, not optimistic enough. Amazing how much of our economy seems to run on optimism. Hope.
In an effort to boost growth, the Federal Reserve last week said it will keep its benchmark short-term interest rate at nearly zero until mid-2013. Previously, the central bank had never given a clear time frame. It hopes the certainty of low rates will encourage consumers and businesses to borrow and spend more.
Despite hope and optimism:
…July’s job gains are barely enough to keep up with population growth. At least double that many new jobs are needed to significantly reduce unemployment. And a consumer sentiment survey taken earlier this month showed confidence in the economy fell to the lowest level in 31 years, raising concerns that Americans could pull back on spending.
Worries about U.S. economic weakness and the ongoing European debt crisis caused the stock markets to plunge in recent weeks. While stock indexes have recovered some lost ground, the Dow Jones industrial average is more than 1,200 points lower than it was on July 22.
The Fed’s assessment of the economy last week was gloomier than it had been in June. The Fed said it “anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually.”
As the man said, “Hope in one hand, shit in the other. See which one fills up first.”