Democrats are touting yesterday’s jobs report–248,000 net new jobs were added in September, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.9%–as a victory for the administration that should improve the party’s prospects in November. Thus, to cite just one example, President Obama boasted in a speech yesterday that by any measure, the economy today is better than when he took office.
I should hope so! Obama took office shortly after the financial collapse of September 2008, in the depth of a recession. The stimulus, as you no doubt recall, was supposed to get the economy back on its feet. The problem we have today is not that we are in an even worse recession than in January 2009–God forbid–but that the current recovery is the worst one ever, by a wide margin. This graph, which I posted a few days ago, tells the story:
As for the September jobs report, was it anything to crow about? Pre-Obama, a 5.9% unemployment rate was considered unacceptably high. The average unemployment rate during the George W. Bush administration was 5.3%. Moreover, most people have figured out that the official unemployment rate has been dropping primarily because Americans are leaving the labor force. Is the latest report a sign of some real awakening of the jobs market, that will make voters more optimistic over the next 30 days?
I doubt it. The September report says that the number of those not in the labor force increased by another 315,000 last month. Moreover, the report says that a large majority of the net job gains went to workers over 55 years old, while teenagers got the rest. The key demographic that should be driving the economy–those between 25 and 54–actually lost 10,000 jobs. And those aged 20-24 lost 72,000. Perhaps most important of all, wages continued to slide. The Age of Obama, for many millions of Americans, has been an age of borderline poverty.
None of this means that the jobs report won’t be hyped; it will be, relentlessly, along with other claims about the economy that are either bogus or silly (like Obama’s boast that the economy today is better than in January 2009). That hype may hove some effect, but, when given a choice between administration flacks in the press and their lying eyes, most voters will go with their lying eyes.