Today’s jobs report was bleak–the economy added 120,000, many fewer than expected, and unemployment fell because more people left the work force. Record numbers of Americans are now outside the labor market, and it will take a lot of economic growth–far more than we have experienced at any time during the Obama administration–to draw them back in. The markets fell in after-closing trading on the bad jobs news.
At the American Enterprise blog, James Pethokoukis supplies some of the grim numbers, including this one: if the labor force participation rate were the same now as it was when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.9%. That pretty much says it all.
What was most striking to me about today’s jobs news was how it was reported. Obama tried to spin the news as positive, but no one, not even the most reliably liberal press, bought it. “Only 120,000 jobs added in March, missing economic expectations,” headlined The Hill. “Jobs Report Tempers Hopes of Accelerating U.S. Recovery,” wrote the New York Times. What really got my attention was this headline on Yahoo Finance. Yahoo News is solidly left-leaning, and its headlines are probably viewed by more people than any newspaper’s, but today Yahoo minced no words:
There will be an interesting dynamic between now and November. Reporters and editors want Obama to win, of course, and they will do what they can to help him as long as they think he has a chance. At the same time, if he is going down, they will want to distance themselves from him. So we may see more surprisingly candid headlines between now and the fall.