Jobs report: Ammo for both sides
The Kansas City Star
While today’s unemployment report showed good growth in payrolls — not great, but good — Politically it may prove inconclusive.
Romneyites will stress the jobless-rate uptick to 7.9 percent, higher than when President Obama took office. Obama backers will point to the healthy boost in payrolls of 171,000 and the upward revisions in reports for the last two months.
Democrats hope most voters will pass over the details and absorb only the headlines, because many of the details are worrisome for the Dems. Weekly working hours went down. Weekly and hourly earnings went down. Unemployment for blacks and Hispanics went up.
In his speech at the Democratic National Convention, former President Clinton said political perceptions are not changed by economic data but when people begin to “feel” a recovery. With earnings still going down, few are feeling it.
Bottom line: More than three years after the economy officially bottomed in mid-2009, growth remains lackluster. To really start reducing the legions of the jobless, especially the long-term unemployed, you need much heftier monthly payroll increases.
Right now, we’re getting job growth at about the same monthly average — around 160,000 per month — as last year. Today’s data probably doesn’t change the basic dynamic of the election.