So the BLS released their latest jobs report this morning, and, well, while I’m not sure this reaction is entirely warranted (or was meant to be taken seriously),
it is still very good news for the economy and, consequently, for the re-election chances of Barack Obama.
The unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 percent in September, and total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 114,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
More important than the 114,000 jobs number in September are the adjustments to the previous two months. July was revised up by 40,000 jobs and August was revised up by 46,000 jobs. Here is the updated graph showing today’s jobs numbers and what they might mean in November.
What a difference a month (of adjustments) makes. Last month the jobs line was hugging Silver’s “super optimistic” line and now it is comfortably ahead of it. I think we can all agree now that Ezra Klein’s magic number was incredibly pessimistic for the president.
The right wing reaction to this report has been, um, illustrative.
Riiight. The BLS is in on it now. Obviously! This is why they released such a crappy jobs report the day after the DNC… wait, that’s not right. Oh well, I’m sure some conservative will explain to me how the BLS is just a government agency and therefore can’t be trusted. Of course they won’t explain why private company ADP has been reporting jobs numbers that have been better than the BLS for months now, but oh well. Maybe George Soros owns ADP? Yes, let’s just say that.
The other thing that conservatives have been (correctly!) pointing out with all of these jobs reports is that unemployment sometimes drops because of people dropping out of the workforce. But this report is different. Workforce participation is up in this report. It really is a pretty good report.
To be clear, 7.8% is still way too high, terrible in fact, and there is nothing to crow about for liberals here. But the premise of this series when I started it back in February has always been that progress towards recovery is what the electorate will respond to, not any particular rate. The situation is improving and everyone should be happy about that, but alas, some are not.
Getting below 8% is perhaps psychologically important to people who follow politics and the economy closely, but to a voter who is still unemployed, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. This is one reason I find the conspiracy theories about the BLS so amusing. If the Obama administration cooked the books to say unemployment was 2% it wouldn’t make any difference at all to the voters going to the polls. The unemployment report is a reflection of how voters are probably feeling, not the cause.