It’s tempting to read a lot into today’s tardy September jobs report, especially in light of the government shutdown and the resulting furlough of hundreds of thousands of workers. But this month, more than ever, it’s important to remember that the jobs number is just one of many that describe the macro economy, and a pretty poor one at that.
For one thing, September’s number pre-dates the shutdown and will in no way reflect its effects. What’s more, a complete jobs picture must account for people who are no longer looking for work, or are underemployed or involuntarily working part time. And long-term unemployment, at 4.1 million workers, may signal prolonged weak demand for labor with potentially long-term effects.
Finally, today’s report of 148,000 is liable to change dramatically, and we won’t know its true value for many months, as the figure below shows.
Follow Zach McDade on Twitter at @zmcdade