August Jobs Report Shows Biggest Growth Story Success Since Great Recession

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Five years to the month removed from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Americans bustling into their offices on Friday morning received a pleasant reminder that the recovery is really a success story.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the United States added 169,000 jobs in August as the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.3% from 7.4% in the prior month. Though economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg expected 180,000 new jobs, the miss and the downward revisions weren't terrible.

The data, when placed among other recent economic reports, is a subtle reminder that the economy actually looks pretty good.

"I can tell you that they're Americans still thinking about 2008, and they keep confusing, fundamentally, they continue to confuse a slow successful recovery with failure," said Lee Munson, chief investment strategist at Portfolio, LLC. "If we were growing at 6% in the 1980s, and now we're at 2% or 3%, people still see that as negative three, not positive three."

Let's connect the dots.

The 4-week moving average for jobless claims during the week ended Aug. 31 dipped to 328,500, which was the lowest level since October 2007 when the average hit 328,300.

The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose to 55.7 in August -- its highest level since June 2011, and a level higher than any month from early 2006 up to the start of the financial crisis.

The second estimate for U.S. second-quarter gross domestic product gained to 2.5%, up from the advance estimate of 1.7%, despite the fiscal drag that continues to weigh on the economy.

Existing home sales for July actually rose to a 5.39 million annual rate, the highest level since November 2009 when an expiring tax credit triggered demand to buy real estate. Excluding that outlier, it was the highest number since March 2007.

The list of improving data points extends beyond these examples, but it does reflect a trend that the economy is improving across a range of sectors.