EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Out of work Americans were slapped with bad news Friday. The government says unemployment dropped in August, but not because more people are getting back to work. In fact, the numbers are not what analysts expected at all.
The labor department says 96,000 jobs were created last month.
The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% to 8.3%.
On the surface, that 8.1% headline number appears to be positive. But experts say the unemployment rate actually fell because the labor force is shrinking.
“That could be because of a sign of retirements that were put off until people thought they had enough money saved after the recession. That’s most likely what we're seeing,” said local labor economist Scott Hodek.
The Eau Claire County Job Center remains busy still. Greeter at the center Bruce Schafer says there are a few people that come back more often than not.
“They’re still looking for a job,” said Bruce. “Then eventually they get a job and we don't see them for a while which is good.”
And lady luck came in the nick of time for a guy who Bruce calls a “regular.”
“I practically lived here at the job center. When almost everyone knows you on a first name basis, you've been here a lot,” said Mark Lawrence.
58-year-old Lawrence has been homeless for 16 months and jobless for 18 months.
“There are days when I’m like I just don't want to keep living like this; I don't want to keep doing this. You begin to think it’s not going to turn around,” Lawrence said. But after 18 months, things are starting to turn around.
“I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and seemed to be like a train coming from the other direction but this light turned out to be a job,” he said.
Still there are others, like truck driver Jim Geurts who is in need of some of that luck.
“I probably applied for I would say about 50 to 60 positions since I’ve been out of work,” said Geurts. “I almost feel like I need to move somewhere else to get more opportunities. But I like it here and I own a home down here,” said Geurts.
But when the going gets tough, some say there’s no choice but to move on.
“Even if I like it here or I like it over there, it doesn't matter where I am unless I’m working,” said recently unemployed Justin Eichelt. He said he never expected to lose his job.
“Never thought it would happen but it did. Always the things that you don't think will happen, happen. Now it’s just getting back on the track,” said Eichelt.
Lawrence told us if he could offer a word of advice, it is patience.
“The reality is it’s going to be a long process but you just got to keep at it and somehow you will persevere but you got to keep ahead,” said Lawrence.