Another Labor Day and weird jobs numbers
The good news is that the unemployment rate is 5.1%. The bad news is that the participation rate is 62.6%.
Hooray for those who aren't part of that 5.1% and are going to work today. Thank God that they are working.
However, it's the labor participation number that we should be looking at, as Robert Hennelly wrote:
Despite all the job gains of recent years, the national labor force participation rate in August remained stuck near historic lows at 62.6 percent, leaving the economy performing nowhere near its potential.
The question of how best to deal with the persistent "slack" in the labor market will loom large in the Fed's deliberations. "I think a significant number of individuals still are not seeking work because they perceive a lack of good opportunities, and a stronger economy would draw some of them back into the labor force," was how Fed Chair Janet Yellen diagnosed the problem earlier this summer in Cleveland.
"The fact we have still have millions outside of the workforce is attributable to both a lack of opportunities and that the nature of the available opportunities out there may not be strong enough in terms of wages and benefits," Claire McKenna with the National Employment Law Project (NELP) told CBS MoneyWatch.
The low participation rate is the one driving all of the negative feelings about the economy.
This is the topic when job seekers look for a job and find out that it does not pay well at all. Or when they go from job to job on a contract basis because employers are afraid to hire people on a full-time basis.
This is why people continue to tell pollsters that the economy is not doing well despite all of the happy talk from the Obama administration.
This is why Senator Bernie Sanders talks about the lousy economy and wage stagnation in the age of Obama.
So enjoy your Labor Day Weekend. There is always something to cheer about, such as the baseball pennant races or the start of the NFL season.
But remember that a lot of Americans have mixed feelings on this holiday.