OK, so nonfarm payrolls fell 51,000 in July, while revisions to May and June added 26,000 jobs. That results in a net loss of 25,000 jobs. (The consensus expected a loss of 75,000.) The guys at First Trust Advisors get it right, I think, with this piece of analysis:
The labor market is a lagging indicator of economic activity, and job declines so far this year reflect weakness in the overall economy in late 2007 and early 2008. Still, the recent decline in jobs is much smaller than has been typical of past periods of economic weakness.
Job losses so far have been between 51,000 and 88,000 with no sign of downward momentum. Back in 2001, the economy lost 30,000; 281,000; 44,000; and 128,000 as the economy weakened. And in 1990, the economy lost 42,000; 280,000; 82,000; and 161,000 as the economy tanked. Way back in 1981, jobs losses were 36,000; 87,000; 100,000; and 209,000. Now, I am certainly not saying that the economy is in great shape. It isn't. But it's not in shambles, either.