A month ago, the jobs report for July exceeded expectations are generated a new round of economic optimism. This morning, the jobs report is largely the opposite, falling short of expectations and offering another sober reminder about the long slog.
The new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 96,000 jobs in August, short of the 125,000 expected. The unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%, and while that may seem encouraging, the figure is misleading -- the "improvement" isn't the result of more jobs; it's the result of fewer people in the workforce.
As is nearly always the case, there was a gap in the public vs. private sectors -- American businesses added 103,000 jobs last month, while the government shed another 7,000 jobs. In terms of revisions, what makes today's figures especially disappointing is that both June and July totals were revised in the wrong direction.
For context, I'd note that so far in 2012, the economy has created 1.11 million jobs -- 1.2 million in the private sector -- which isn't even close to being good enough, but the total is already better than five of the eight years of the Bush/Cheney era.
Above you'll find the chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction -- red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here's another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.