Dow Making Gains Despite Weak Jobs Report

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Hewlett-Packard's stock is up 1.9%, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) higher today despite a worse-than-expected jobs market report. As of 1:30 p.m. EDT the Dow is up 40 points, or 0.27%, to 14,978. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was up 0.34% points to 1,661.

There was one U.S. economic release today.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

Nonfarm payrolls growth

August

169,000

104,000

Unemployment Rate

August

7.3%

7.4%

The Department of Labor reported its nonfarm payrolls report estimating that the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, below analyst expectations of 173,000. The bigger news, though, was that the government revised its estimates of jobs growth for June and July downward. June's estimate was cut by 16,000 jobs to 172,000, while July's was cut by 58,000 to 104,000.

US Change in Nonfarm Payrolls Chart

US Change in Nonfarm Payrolls data by YCharts.

With the economy adding 74,000 jobs less this summer than previously thought, the weaker-than-expected report is seen by many as good for the market, as it means the Fed is less likely to wind down its stimulative asset purchases.

The other part of the report was the unemployment rate, which dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 7.3%. However, this was the result of people leaving the job market, rather than steady growth in the labor market. The labor participation rate, which measures the percentage of the population employed or looking for work, dropped to 63.2%.

US Labor Force Participation Rate Chart

US Labor Force Participation Rate data by YCharts.

The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the number of people participating in the economy. As fewer people participate, and employment stays steady, the unemployment rate drops.

US Unemployment Rate Chart

US Unemployment Rate data by YCharts.

There's a lot of uncertainty right now, given speculation of Fed "tapering," a potential U.S. military strike in Syria, a slowdown in emerging markets, and more. So what can an investor do in times like this? Here's my advice: Keep learning, focus on your goals, have an investing plan, stick to it, ignore the crowds, and invest for the long term.

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