About those improved unemployment numbers

So last Friday the BLS released the latest jobs report and as you probably have read or have heard, it was pretty much good news all around.

Paul Krugman had this to say:

Alternatively, note that this month’s job gain roughly equals the average job gain during the Clinton years — all 8 of them. And unemployment at the start of that run was higher than it is now.

Still, genuinely good news.

And Ezra Klein was even sunnier, saying this in a post titled The January Jobs Report, It’s All Good:

 Unemployment is down to 8.3 percent. But the inside numbers are good, too.

Let’s start with where the jobs were created. Professional and business services added 70,000 positions. Manufacturing added 50,000. Leisure and hospitality was up by 44,000. Health care was up by 33,000. For comparison, in the December jobs report, more than 40,000 of the 200,000 new jobs were “messengers and couriers,” which seemed likely to be seasonal hiring. Not so this month.

Neither Krugman nor Klein are known particularly for being optimists.  In fact, Krugman can be downright depressing.  So these two posts really do indicate that it was a very good jobs report.

Both posts, however, contain something that we liberals who support the re-election of President Obama should be cautious about.  Krugman states:

 I’d say that Obama’s chances are looking significantly better.

And Klein quotes a friend who tweeted:

That sound you hear is champagne corks in the West Wing.

Now neither of those guys are suggesting that Obama deserves all the credit for the good jobs report and that it proves he should be elected.  They are just noting the existing correlation between good economic news and election prospects for incumbent presidents.

What I would caution is that we don’t get too excited pointing to a single month’s report and speculating about the election.  An upcoming month’s report might not be so great and Europe is still dangerously close to melting down, which would hit us hard.

It’s harder to argue for taking a long view of the situation or looking beyond the immediate numbers when things go bad, if you are on record crowing about those same immediate conditions when things were good.

Author: Wiesman

Husband, father, video game developer, liberal, and perpetual Underdog.

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