It's a sign of just how low expectations have fallen for the US economy that today's jobs report is better than expected.
The key number in the report is 117,000 — that's how many jobs the economy added in July.
This is not a we're-charging-back-to-economic-health kind of number. It's more like a we're-bouncing-along-the-bottom-of-a-terrible-job-market number.
But many economists were predicting something even worse — a we're-crashing-into-a-disastrous-double-dip-recession number.
Adding 117,000 jobs a month is about enough to keep up with population growth. (The unemployment rate did tick down a tiny bit, but that was driven by people who gave up looking for a job, and therefore are no longer counted when calculating the unemployment rate.)
In a strong recovery, the economy would be adding jobs about twice as fast as it is now — you'd see more than 200,000 new jobs created every month, month after month.
Today's number is better than what we've been seeing recently, when the growth rate dipped below 100,000 jobs a month. But it's not nearly enough.
This post was updated at 11:30 a.m.