Jobs Report

Post-Convention Hangover: America Isn't Working

Optimist: The economy created 92,000 jobs in August (on first estimate) - that's better than nothing.

Pessimist: But 368,000 people quit the work force altogether. Unemployment only seems to be going down because the labor force is shrinking.

Optimist: But you need to remember why so many people are leaving the labor force. The boomers are retiring. 2012 is the year that people born in 1947 turn 65.

Pessimist: When surveyed, boomers tell us their preferred retirement age is 68. They need to work to top up the equity they lost in the housing bust - only the work isn't there.

Optimist: Labor force participation is up among seniors.

Pessimist: Which is a big reason why young people find it so difficult to get started in life.

Optimist: The auto industry is back!

Pessimist: But most of the new jobs being created pay much less than the jobs lost in 2008-2009. The US may return to full employment some time around 2016-2017. But it won't return as a society shaped and defined by its middle class - regardless of who wins in November.

Optimist: That's not what the candidates say!

Pessimist: I thought you said you were an optimist - not a fantasist.