Quick Takes | Jobs and Unemployment

Job gain steady, unemployment drops to 7.8%

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Today’s job numbers showed that 114,000 jobs were added in September, and the unemployment rate dropped significantly to 7.8 percent. This is one of those months where the two surveys are telling somewhat different stories. The establishment survey (which provides the job count) shows the kind of steady but modest growth we’ve been seeing for the last two-and-a-half years—job growth that is basically just enough to keep up with growth in the potential workforce. On the other hand, the household survey (which provides the unemployment rate) was extremely positive, with a substantial drop in the unemployment rate (and furthermore, that drop was due to people getting jobs, not leaving the labor force). The rule of thumb when the two surveys tell different stories is to go with what the establishment survey says. However, the household survey provides reasons to be somewhat more optimistic about job opportunities for American workers.

See more work by Heidi Shierholz