As expected the BLS released its July jobs report today for the month of June and the results were not very good. While the economy did add 80,000 jobs this is far below what we really need to see to get the economy really moving. In addition, the numbers for April were revised downward by 9,000 jobs and the numbers for May were revised upward by 8,000 jobs.
There was some reason to be optimistic that the numbers would have been better (still not great) because ADP had estimated that the economy had added 176,000 jobs. This is one of those times that I am sorely tempted to wonder why conservatives seem more willing to take the government’s numbers over a private company’s numbers, and hmmm, I guess mentioning that means I just gave in to that temptation.
I bring this up because of conversations I had with a conservative reader (hi Gary!) about whether we should be using Gallup’s numbers back in February when it had US unemployment at 9.2%. The argument was (ostensibly) that Gallup was more reliable because its numbers were not seasonally adjusted. For some reason those conservatives aren’t saying that anymore as Gallup now has unemployment at 8.0% instead of the 8.2% reported by the BLS. I mean, either way it’s bad, so let’s just be consistent. I’m going to continue using the BLS numbers. But just a reminder: the seasonal adjustments by the BLS always cancel out by years’ end and are intended to give a more accurate, less volatile picture, not to “cook the books” for political purposes. (In fact, the BLS seems to have subtracted 311,000 jobs to get the numbers for this month, so an unadjusted report would have shown job growth of 391,000 jobs and that would have set a completely different tone for the talking heads this morning.)
Anyway, here is the chart of what the jobs report might mean for the president’s re-election chances. As you can see, if the numbers don’t start picking up, he will be below even Nate Silver’s “optimistic” projections for his chances for victory.
I’m going to (foolishly) go out on a limb here and predict that next month’s report will be much higher. While this month’s report was certainly disappointing, the trend in job growth seems to have bottomed out, and may be starting to accelerate again. If I’m wrong (a VERY likely possibility considering my track record) I’ll eat crow next month.