5 Key Lessons in August's Jobs Report

A look at the significance of the headline number, the monthly churn, and some unemployment rate quirks


Back to August: "The labor force increased by 500,000 indicating that people are more encouraged about the labor market and decided to look for work boosting the jobless rate to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent," says Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University-Channel Islands.

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Slow growth will have Washington seeking stimulus. This may be a better-than-expected jobs report, but the job growth is still very small. The economy needs to be adding hundreds of thousands of jobs every month to absorb new people entering the job market and put the unemployed back to work. So lawmakers may be looking for more stimulus. "There is a good chance that the Obama Administration will introduce a set of targeted economic stimulus programs," Sohn says. "Payroll tax relief to encourage new hiring for small businesses is a good possibility. State and local governments are laying off employees as revenue falls. Some assistance from Washington could stem job losses here." Shortly after the release of the August jobs report Friday, President Obama encouraged lawmakers to pass a $55 billion bill that would provide additional loans to small businesses. Housing stimulus may also be coming—along with more unemployment benefit extensions, Sohn says.