The Department of Labor reported this morning the U.S. unemployment rate surged 6.1% in August, the highest in nearly five years, as employers cut payrolls for an eighth straight month and a decline in labor markets accelerated. The government said 84,000 jobs were lost in August.Â In addition, July’s job losses were revised up to 60,000 and June’s to 100,000 from a previously reported 51,000 in each month.
Wall Street economists had expected a 75,000 decline in payrolls last month and only a 5.8% unemployment rate, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey.
Separately,Â the Campaign for America’s future reported that its misery index hit the worst level since May 1991.
The misery index is a gauge of economic well-being widely used by economists for decades. It represents the sum of the unemployment and inflation rates. “Honest people who work hard for a living are struggling to make ends meet,â€ said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. “The misery is felt at the gas pump and the grocery store and it’s getting worse, not better.â€
Come January, either Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama will have to address the issue of rising unemployment and soaring costs. Here’s what the candidates had to say about the jobless numbers — and each other’s economic plans:
Americans are hurting and we must act to create jobs. Unfortunately, while millions of Americans are gathering around the kitchen table and questioning how they can keep their homes, pay their medical bills and afford their children’s education, Washington has failed to act. As I promised last night, I will fight for those that lost their jobs, savings, and real estate investments. … As president, I will enact a Jobs for America economic plan that creates jobs, helps small businesses, expands opportunities and opens markets to American goods. Washington must stand beside the American people, not in their way.
“Sadly there are those who believe that to grow this economy we must raise taxes, impose costly new mandates and isolate America from the global economy. When our economy is hurting, the last thing we should do is raise taxes as Barack Obama plans to do and has done. The American people cannot afford a Barack Obama presidency.”
“Today’s jobs report is a reminder of what’s at stake in this election —- John McCain showed last night that he is intent on continuing the economic policies that just this year have caused the American economy to lose 605,000 jobs.Â John McCain may believe that the fundamentals of our economy are ‘strong,’ but the working men and women I meet every day are working harder for less, the typical working age family’s income is down $2,000 since George Bush took office, and their purchasing power is as low as it’s been in a decade.Â John McCain’s answer is more of the same:Â $200 billion in tax cuts to big corporations and oil companies, and not