The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the U.S. economy added 103,000 non-farm jobs in September.

Sure, it’s better than what economists expected (a gain of 60,000) and better than August’s revised gain of 57,000.

Still, it’s not nearly enough.

It’s not enough to meaningfully lower the unemployment rate, it’s not enough to boost consumer confidence, and it’s not enough to heal the housing market.

Ironically, in 2011, the U.S. labor force expanded – due to children growing up, immigration, and elderly people who suddenly need work because their retirement savings were wiped out – at an average of 104,000 per month, according to the BLS household employment situation survey.

So if the economy really just added 103,000 jobs per month (a figure taken from the BLS establishment employment situation survey), the unemployment rate wouldn’t go down at all. 

Monthly gains of 103,000 do, however, calm fears of a double-dip recession. It shows that things aren’t getting worse, at least.

But it’s definitely nothing to cheer about.

Why is the U.S. economy and jobs market struggling so much to recover, especially compared to previous recessions?

The biggest factor is the collapse of an enormous asset bubble, which has saddled consumers with big debt burdens that will take them many years to pay off.

The fact that the bubble was in the housing sector compounded the problem because some families are now tied to their houses and prevented from moving away for a new job. 

Many workers were also lured to the real estate and construction industry during the boom. Now that everything collapsed, they find themselves with jobs skills that are not in demand.