Uppermost in voters’ minds as midterm elections near are the economy and jobs, notes Grumpy Editor, who finds keen business-oriented observers --- looking beyond bright leads on stories relating to those subjects --- often raise eyebrows.
Friday’s jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, indicated the jobless rate fell to 5.9 percent in September and companies added 248,000 positions to payrolls. That was enough to send the Dow industrials up 208.64 points (again crossing the 17000 mark) to 17009.69.
"You couldn’t ask for a better-looking jobs report,” beamed a New York-based senior economist.
But sharp eyes that continued reading the BLS report noted the average hourly wage decreased a penny in September to $24.53.
As a Wall Street Journal editorial Friday pointed out: “Average earnings have risen only 2 percent in the last 12 months, which means most workers have barely received a raise after inflation.”
Also, and not trumpeted, was the dwindling size of the U.S. labor force which dropped by nearly 100,000, putting the participation rate --- 62.7 percent --- at the lowest level since 1978.
That low rate, a measure of what proportion of the population was employed or actively looking for jobs, compared with 66 percent or slightly higher most of the time between early 2004 and October, 2008.
Although the average work week in September edged up for the first time in six months to 34.6 hours from 34.5 in August, it was still below the long-time traditional U.S. 40-hours work week.
Thus, it’s a recovery that many Americans barely feel.
Look for the next BLS jobs report on Nov. 7 --- three days after Election Day.
IN CASE YOUR FAVORITE NEWS OUTLETS MISSED THESE…
In-the-news Ebola emerged four decades ago. The deadly virus that causes fever, severe gastrointestinal pain, unusual bleeding often resulting in death from fluid loss and organ shutdown, first appeared in small rural villages in central Africa in the mid-1970s…The White House continues to avoid any action to free Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi languishing behind bars in Mexico after making a wrong turn on a road into Mexico six months ago. He served in Afghanistan and later was diagnosed with PTSD. What’s the latest? When asked at Wednesday’s press briefing, buck-passing White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “My colleagues at the State Department are very focused on this issue. I'd refer you to them for their efforts to work with the Mexican government." Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said, "Shame on President Obama for not making a 30-second telephone call to the president of Mexico and getting this thing settled a long time ago”…Still dodging pot holes on federal roads because of lack of funds? Mentioned in a Wall Street Journal Oct. 3 story: “Since the end of 2001, the U.S. has spent over $100 billion on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a Pentagon oversight body”…Acquisition leads to trimming contributors. Forbes.com, after a majority stake in Forbes Media (which includes Forbes magazine) was acquired by Asian investors in July, axed a number of contributors...Following a police air and ground search for a 10-year-old boy, Cameron Polom, a TV reporter on assignment for ABC Action News in Tampa, found the youngster, missing for about 14 hours, peeking through a fence…Rare humor in a serious story: “If passengers on a delayed flight from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina, got a bit crabby, no one could really say they were being too shellfish,” read the lead in an Associated Press story with a New York dateline. Delaying the Thursday evening flight from LaGuardia Airport: live crabs that somehow got loose in the cargo hold…The New York Times plans to eliminate about 100 newsroom jobs along with a smaller number of positions from its editorial and business operations. The action follows 100 newsroom jobs cut in 2008, 100 more in 2009 and an additional 30 early last year…Will thirsty voters be drinking to this? Taxes on sugar-laden drinks, including sodas, are on next month’s ballots in San Francisco and Berkeley. Measures call for a two cents an ounce tax in San Francisco and one cent an ounce in Berkeley.
Correcting a reporter who used the “illegal aliens” term, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “Are you referring to undocumented people who are in the United States?” The reporter replied, “Illegal aliens, yes ma’am.” That brought Pelosi to repeat, “Undocumented people, okay.”