Your Headline August Jobs Number: 169,000

Unemployment falls to lowest since December 2008

A recruiter waits to meet with job seekers at a career fair, in King of Prussia, Pa., June 24, 2013.
National Journal
Patrick Reis
Sept. 6, 2013, 4:41 a.m.

The U.S. eco­nomy ad­ded 169,000 jobs in Au­gust as the un­em­ploy­ment rate ticked down slightly to 7.3 per­cent, fed­er­al eco­nom­ists re­por­ted Fri­day.

The un­em­ploy­ment rate, which sat at 7.4 per­cent last month and 8.1 per­cent a year ago, was the low­est of Pres­id­ent Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and the low­est rate since Decem­ber 2008. Des­pite the drop, 11.3 mil­lion people re­main un­em­ployed.

The job re­port is un­likely to land with much ef­fect on Con­gress, where mem­bers are fo­cused on the situ­ation in Syr­ia ahead of a dif­fi­cult vote on Pres­id­ent Obama’s re­quest for au­thor­iz­a­tion of a mil­it­ary strike. And even be­fore the fo­cus shif­ted to Syr­ia, pro­spects for ac­tion on the eco­nomy were dim — with Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans locked in a le­gis­lat­ive stale­mate.

But the num­ber will be watched closely at the Fed­er­al Re­serve Board , where Chair­man Ben Bernanke is pon­der­ing when to wind down the bank’s mon­et­ary ef­forts to stim­u­late eco­nom­ic growth.

Bernanke has said that one pil­lar of the bank’s stim­u­lus ef­fort, the his­tor­ic­ally low lend­ing rate to banks, will likely re­main in place un­til un­em­ploy­ment falls to 6.5 per­cent, provided in­fla­tion re­mains at the Fed’s tar­get levels.

The oth­er ma­jor com­pon­ents of the Fed’s stim­u­lus ef­fort — monthly, mult­i­bil­lion-dol­lar bond buys, known as “quant­it­at­ive eas­ing” — could end much soon­er, as Fed of­fi­cials have said they will be­gin wind­ing down the pro­gram when they are con­fid­ent of con­tin­ued eco­nom­ic growth.

The Labor De­part­ment also re­vised its ini­tial Ju­ly job-growth es­tim­ate from 162,000 to 104,000, and re­vised its June job-growth es­tim­ate from a second es­tim­ate of 188,000 to a fi­nal cal­cu­la­tion of 172,000. That’s a total down­ward re­vi­sion of 74,000 jobs.

The jobs num­ber is based on a sur­vey of em­ploy­er payrolls and has a mar­gin of er­ror of about plus-or-minus 100,000. The un­em­ploy­ment rate, which is based on a sur­vey of house­holds, has a mar­gin of er­ror of about 0.2 per­cent.

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