The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) announced today that the national unemployment rate dropped a surprising .3 percent in September to 7.8 percent, down from 8.1 percent in August. This is the lowest the unemployment rate has been since President Obama took office in January 2009.
The unemployment rate for 18-29 years olds dropped even more dramatically, decreasing nearly one percent from 12.7 percent in August to 11.8 percent in September.
But the lower unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story, experts say.
Former Congressional Budget Office Director and current President of conservative nonprofit American Action Forum Douglas-Holtz Eakin called BLS’ estimated increase of 873,000 jobs in September “extraordinary – but implausible.”
“This must be an anomaly – it is out of line with any of the other data,” Eakin, who is an economist, said in a press release.
Former George W. Bush labor department official and President of youth organization Generation Opportunity Paul Conway called the drop “interesting at best, suspicious at worst.” “Especially five weeks from an election,” he added.
Conway also said that young Americans in particular need to look at the bigger picture and not just the September jobs numbers because the devil is in the details.
“What you’re looking at is the highest sustained number of unemployment for young Americans since WWII,” he said, noting that even 11.8 percent is an incredibly high number.
Conway pointed out that approximately 75 percent of the jobs that were created in September were part-time jobs. Meaning, that while more young Americans may have found employment last month, they likely weren’t high paying jobs or at anywhere related to their field of study.
“You’re not seeing full-time meaningful job creation, not by any meaningful measure,” Conway said of the dire situation.
Likewise, Generation Opportunity argues that many young Americans have given up looking for work, and thus are not being counted in the official unemployment rate.
According to Generation Opportunity’s press release on the September jobs report, “If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.6 percent.”
Conway rejects the notion that young people are to blame for this youth unemployment crisis.
“They’re not lazy,” he said. “They care about this country they want to get on with their life.”
President Obama’s administration previously estimated that the national unemployment rate would be 6 percent by this point in the President’s term – a number that is clearly out of reach before the presidential election. However, even a slightly lower unemployment rate like the one released today could give the President the boost he needs to save his own job.
With the next jobs report set to drop on Friday, Nov. 2 – only four days until the election, the October unemployment rate announcement could truly be a make or break factor in determining whether or not Mitt Romney becomes the next President of the United States.