In Friday’s disappointing jobs report, the U.S. Labor Department said 96,000 net jobs were added to the workforce in August, stirring conversation about the economic climate and the presidential race.
The report is one of the last three to be released before November's presidential election, and their findings usually shape political speeches and reinforce platforms. People taking a break from their busy Friday in downtown Los Angeles had diverse opinions about the jobs report, but many believed that a turnaround would take longer than a couple of months.
"The time frame we're looking at isn't feasible," Myra McKissick, a senior administrative assistant at architecture firm HNTB. "We -- the entire United States -- has to work together to pick up this country. It's hard when people are taking lesser-paying jobs than they're used to and they're overqualified. It makes us all a little anxious as a society."
McKissick is no stranger to unemployment. The 49-year-old brought in more than $70,000 a year before being laid off in 2008. She spent a year looking for a job and is now making about $52,000 while supporting her daughter who, after facing unemployment herself, went back to school.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1%, from 8.3% in July, but that was primarily because people have dropped out of the labor force.
"I think the unemployment numbers are vastly understated," said Joseph J. Klauzar, 55, a portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. "The [government] uses a number that is not honest. It doesn't count those who have given up looking."
Klauzar believes that more companies could be hiring, but that they are hoarding their profits because of President Obama's policies. There is confusion over who will pay for the initiatives Obama has introduced, such as affordable healthcare, so it's difficult for companies to make a capital expenditure decision.
"I do believe that in this particular situation, the lack of leadership is causing employers to hesitate in making a commitment to hire additional employees."
Mostafa Elnahrawy disagrees. A ramp service agent for United Airlines, the 48-year-old has seen positions open left and right.
"We're hiring all the time," said Elnahrawy, who is originally from Egypt. "We might get a lot more applicants than there are positions, but the positions are there."
The political back-and-forth stemming from the jobs report annoys him because it's not comprehensive.
"It's a lot to fix," he said. Obama "inherited a mess, but he's been making improvements. The auto industry was saved, and by controlling the oil imports, we've been able to keep jobs, so we're on our way.
"We have to remember the beauty of this country is that we can all work as hard as we want to get to where we want to be. Nothing holds us back but ourselves."
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Bright August jobs reports would boost Obama
U.S. adds disappointing 96,000 jobs; unemployment falls to 8.1%