The economy lost 54,000 jobs in August and the unemployment rate creeped back up to 9.6 percent, but the numbers were better than expected and the job losses could be attributed to the expiration of temporary Census jobs, according to a report released this morning by the Department of Labor.
During the month, there were 114,000 jobs lost because of the Census, while the private sector added 67,000 jobs. According to a Reuters survey, economists were expecting overall employment dropping by 100,000 and private sector hiring up 41,000.
There were also 1.1 million discouraged workers who are not reflected in the unemployment rate because they have stopped looking for work, believing that no jobs are available to them.
While the numbers may have been better than expected, they still aren’t great. Politically speaking, they won’t do anything to change voter perceptions that the economy is weak and that the Democrats’ spending measures have been a failure. Keep in mind, too, that there is only one more jobs report due out before the election, so Democrats are running out of opportunities to demonstrate sufficient progress.