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Unemployment Drops to 9.1 Percent

UPDATE: 8:34 am

Unemployment fell from 9.2 percent to 9.1 percent as the U.S. economy added 117,000 new jobs in July, however, in order to keep up with population growth, the economy must add at least 125,000 jobs each month. The new 9.1 percent is better than an increase in job loss and beats expectations of economists for only 85,000 to be added in July,  but this is not a good number, isn't an indicator of economic growth and is not a sign of recovery. 


The Wall Street Journal is reporting the drop comes from people quitting the job search, meaning the decrease isn't a reflection of less unemploymed, just more disgruntled workers. The real unemployment rate, including people who have stopped looking for jobs, is closer to 17 percent.

The drop in the unemployment rate appears to be due to a drop in labor-force participation, according to market sources -- can't access the BLS site, still! -- so a 9.1% U-rate is not an unalloyed good. There will be pressure on it to rise again if/when people start to come back to the labor force to look for jobs.

Labor force participation has dropped to its lowest since 1984:

The labor force participation rate, and the reason why the general unemployment rate declined to 9.1%, just dropped to 63.9%, the lowest in 16 years, or matches the participation rate from January 1984.

Meanwhile, USDA reports a record 46 million Americans are on food stamps, 34 percent higher than two years ago.

Stocks oversees are plummeting as anxiety increases ahead of the latest unemployment numbers in the United States today and as economic uncertainty continues to build in Spain and Italy. The new unemployment report is expected to be released at 8:30 am EST after the DOW fell over 500 points yesterday, wiping out all of the gains for 2011. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained the extreme drop as "I don't have a specific reaction to the markets. Markets go up and down." The drop yesterday was the worst market drop since 2008 and was one of the worst in stock market history. Economists have been questioning whether America will slip back into recession, however, it's fair to say many Americans never felt like we got out of recession in the first place.


According to the White House, President Obama will give a speech later this morning about how to get veterans back to work. Later in the afternoon, he will leave for Camp David.

UPDATE (GB) - To put these numbers into perspective, Reuters' Jim Pethokoukis compares the size of the labor force when President Obama took office vs. today:

@JimPethokoukis - 11.7% = Unemployment rate if active labor force was as big as it was when Obama took office. The Big Shrink

UPDATE II (GB) The Associated Press is doing its hacktastic best to apply lipstick to this pig:

@AP - BREAKING: Dow Jones industrial average opens 150 points higher after strong jobs report.

Also, as I write this, the Dow is now down 54 points.

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