214,000 was the lucky number on Friday November 7, 2014. According to the non-farms payroll that’s how many jobs employers added to the U.S. economy in September. The number fell just shy of economists’ estimates of 235,000 jobs, according to Bloomberg data, dropping the total U.S. unemployment rate to 5.8%. It also marked the 56th straight month of private sector job gains, and monthly gains have averaged 227,000 so far this year.
The number keeps the U.S. labor market on track for its best annual performance since 1999. That year an average 265,000 Americans found jobs every month. This month’s number was partly fueled by some workers trading good paying jobs lost during the recession for lower-paying positions or part-time work. As a result, the economy grew 2.3% during the 12 months ending in September, roughly matching the modest gains of 2013.
President Barack Obama noted in a remark Friday that “despite this solid growth, despite the drop in unemployment, there are a lot of folks out there who are anxious about their futures,” highlighting an underlying skepticism citizens feel towards the strong unemployment numbers. This feeling is partly derived from a measly increase in wages of just 2% for the year, barely ahead of inflation. As well, the percent of the labor force who are working part-time when they would prefer to be working full-time is 4.5%. Just 2.8% of the population fell into that category back in October 2007. Although we seem to be out of a recession on paper, we are far from it in perception.