UPDATE: President Joe Biden touted the higher-than-expected jobs numbers as a sign that Bidenomics is working, but he had a take on why polls show Americans are still deeply unhappy about the state of the economy despite the rosy stats.
It has to do with media coverage.
“You all are not the happiest people in the world, what you report, and I mean this sincerely,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “You get more legs when you report something that is negative…It’s just the nature of things. You turn on the television, and there’s not a whole lot about, ‘Boy saves dog as he swims in the lake.’ It is about, ‘Somebody pushed the dog in the lake.’”
“I get it, but if you listen to what is going on around the world, there’s reason for people to be concerned. …I think the American people are smart as hell to know what their interests are. I think they know they are better off financially than they were before. It’s a fact.”
While a number of media outlets blasted out news of the jobs numbers as unexpectedly good, there were also caveats attached, like the potential negative impact it could have on interest rates as the Federal Reserve tries to rein in inflation. The main headline on CNN.com read, “Why the shockingly good jobs report is going to cost you.”
The president also suggested that the chaos on Capitol Hill, with Republicans moving to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker, has had an impact.
He added, “Let me put it this way: If you just watch what happened last week in the Congress, how excited are you going to be about much of anything.”
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry has shed 45,000 jobs since May, when the writers walked out. That picture might begin to change, with the writers strike ending last month and actors at the bargaining table again with studios.
Overall, the U.S. economy added a robust 336,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8%.
The jobs figure was well above expectations, and shows the strength of the employment market even as concerns rise over a recession.
The job gains were in leisure and hospitality, government, health care, professional, scientific, and technical services and social assistance.
Jobs in motion picture and sound recording fell in September to to 427,200, a drop of 6.6%, or 7,000 jobs, from a month earlier.
The BLS, in an advisory last month, did a deep dive into the entertainment jobs figures, noting that it is not entirely clear whether striking writers and actors would show up in the data, given that many work as independent contractors or may be between gigs when the walkouts started. But the strikes also could impact other workers in the industry, like stagehands and sound and lighting technicians, as well as those in related industries.
Yet a chart showed a sharp fall off in entertainment industry employment the Los Angeles area from April to August compared to previous years.
The picture was better in other sectors of media. Jobs in broadcasting and among content providers also dropped slightly, to 346,400, a fall of 0.2% from the previous month. By contrast, jobs in publishing increased by 6.3%, to 936,200.
Economists expressed surprise at the strong overall job growth.
Jason Furman, Harvard professor and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, wrote on X/Twitter, “First reaction to jobs numbers: Shock Second reaction: Nervousness Further reflection: This could be quite good 336K jobs, participation remains high, wage growth moderated further. We could be in the middle of a sustainable increase in labor supply.”
He added, “Just about everyone expected job growth to moderate. Moreover we had had as series of downward revisions and good reason to expect more. But instead we have 266k jobs on average over the last three months. Way above replacement and what was happening earlier this year.”
The strong numbers also raise concerns over whether the Federal Reserve will further raise the central interest rate.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moodys Analytics, wrote, “Both the outsized 336k job gain and the upward revisions. Bond yields are surging as investors anticipate another Fed hike. Not that the Fed should oblige, as much slower job growth is dead ahead and wage and price pressures continue to ease.”