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ECONOMICS REPORT - Measuring Jobs in U.S. - 2004-09-10

Broadcast: September 10, 2004

This is Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Last Friday, the United States Labor Department released the employment numbers for August. The report said the number of unemployed people and the unemployment rate were both about the same as in July.

Unemployment was down one-tenth of one percent, to five point four percent. More than one hundred fifty thousand people left the labor force for whatever reason. Last summer the unemployment rate reached six point three percent.

The report said the number of jobs increased by one hundred forty-four thousand in August. There were gains in health care and several other industries that provide services. Manufacturers added twenty two thousand jobs.

The Labor Department also said almost sixty thousand more jobs were created in June and July than first reported.

President Bush said the new information shows that the "economy is strong and getting stronger." Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry saw the numbers differently. He said Mister Bush is now sure to be, in his words, "the first president since the Great Depression to face re-election without creating a single job." Both could be right, depending on which measure they use.

The Department of Labor measures employment in two ways. One is known as the household survey. Sixty thousand households are asked if anyone age sixteen and over had worked during the past week. Even those who worked without pay in a family business or farm are considered employed.

The other measure is taken from information from one hundred sixty thousand employers. This is known as the establishment survey. It does not include farm workers or the self-employed.

The number of Americans counted as employed is about eight million higher in the household survey. The Republicans use numbers from this survey to point to job growth among the self-employed and others. The Democrats use the establishment survey to talk about the economy having fewer jobs than four years ago. But the two surveys measure employment differently.

In any case, many economists noted that the rate of job creation has slowed compared to earlier this year. They say more jobs are needed just to meet population growth.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. This is Gwen Outen.