White House Links October Shutdown to Stagnant September Jobs Numbers

The White House wove the government shutdown into its justification of September’s employment numbers while telling everyone to brace for worse October numbers.


The Labor Department reported that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in September with a stagnant unemployment rate at 7.2 percent.

Unemployment among teenagers was highest at 21.4 percent while the rate for blacks was 12.9 percent, the highest of any ethnic group.

“In September, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.1 million,” the department said. “These individuals accounted for 36.9 percent of the unemployed.”

“Both the civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio at 58.6 percent, were unchanged in September. Over the year, the labor force participation rate has declined by 0.4 percentage point, while the employment-population ratio has changed little. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was unchanged at 7.9 million in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.”

Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, spun the numbers toward the shutdown.


“While job growth remained solid in September, there is no question that the focus of policy should be on how to achieve a faster pace of job growth by increasing certainty and investing in jobs, rather than the self-inflicted wounds of the past several weeks that increased uncertainty and inhibited job growth,” he said in a White House statement. “Today’s delayed report describes the economy more than a month ago. More recent indicators suggest the labor market worsened in the month of October.”

The administration boasted that “private sector employment has risen for 43 consecutive months, with businesses adding a total of 7.6 million jobs over that period.”

“This underscores the continued importance of taking steps that speed the recovery and boost job creation, while avoiding self-inflicted wounds like a government shutdown and debt ceiling brinksmanship that have the opposite effect,” Furman said.

“Weekly employment indicators not in today’s report suggest that the labor market situation deteriorated in early October, coinciding with the shutdown and the threat of a possible default. Today’s employment report provides a snapshot of the economy in September, prior to the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship. To understand more recent labor market developments we need to rely on other data that gives an initial indication of economic developments in October, including initial unemployment insurance claims and the Gallup Job Creation Index,” he continued. “…During the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of Federal workers went unpaid, families were unable to travel to national parks, oil and gas drilling permits were delayed, Small Business Administration loans were put on hold, licenses to export high-tech products could not be granted, and documentation required to get a mortgage could not be accessed, to name just a few effects.”


A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 29 percent of respondents blaming President Obama for the shutdown while 53 percent blamed Republicans.

After the 1995-96 shutdown, 27 percent blamed President Clinton while 50 percent blamed the GOP.


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