Friday, May 7, 2010


I said earlier this week that this month's job report was more important than most, and it sure looks very good for the Democrats, with a healthy 290K jobs added in April, and positive revisions for February (from a slight loss to a slight gain) and March (up from 162K to 230K).  As always, don't forget to check out Steve Benen's jobs report graph.  The bad news is that the unemployment rate ticket up (to 9.9%, still a terrible number).  Still, I suspect we're now pretty much at the point that Democrats will feel safe to start actually talking up the economy.  They've been very hesitant to do so to date, for lots of good reasons: most Dems still want jobs legislation, and talking up the economy undermines the case for it; the overall unemployment situation has still been terrible, and Dems don't want to sound insensitive to hard times for their constituents; and, most important of all, the Democrats certainly don't want a "Mission Accomplished" moment.  These reasons are now fading, as the economic situation improves. 

At the same time, the GOP is going to find it more difficult to repeat their recent mantra, "Where Are The Jobs?"  Not impossible, of course; unemployment is still very, very, high, and the "good" numbers from March and April are still only about enough to tread water; the economy has to add more jobs than that to do more than keep pace with the growth of the workforce.  In other words, we're still not looking at actual good jobs numbers.  Still, Republicans will certainly have to think about whether to adjust their rhetoric -- although recall that Democrats ran on jobs for months after (slow) job growth resumed following the first George W. Bush recession, just as they did after the George H.W. Bush recession, so I'd hardly expect the GOP to abandon the issue.

No, the thing that might now change is if Democrats begin solidly talking up the economy, it's likely that elite consensus will shift to a more positive view, which will then filter down to voters.  Of course, reality will ultimately matter far more than spin, but in the short run spin can make some difference, and today's numbers certainly help the Democrats quite a bit on that score.


  1. The first George W. Bush recession? Yeah, because he didn't inherit a terrible economy from Bill Clinton. Remember the ludicrous accusations of "talking down the economy"? Evidently not.

    And only in the mind of the delusional would it be reasonable to "talk up the economy" when unemployment is at 9.9%. The only reasonable thing about the above post is the mention of the Democrats slamming Bush after job growth resumed and unemployment was about half what it is now. I have a distinct feeling the author of this blog joined in that bashing. What hypocrisy.

  2. Doesn't it strike anyone as funny that every pending jobs report always seems to be the "most important" one? If this report had been worse than expected, the most important report would have shifted to next month.

  3. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. While the numbers are certainly encouraging, there is an outlier event at play: the Decennial Census hiring swelled April's number.

    Easy tiger and steady as she goes.

  4. Anon 11:00,

    Follow the link to my previous post...I made the case for why this particular jobs report was unusually important.

    Anon 10:59,

    Yes, the first George W. Bush recession. The market peak & fall happened in spring '00, under Clinton, but the recession began in March 2001, with Bush in the White House. It is, perhaps, harsh to call it a "Bush recession," but it is not inaccurate. Bush certainly did not inherit a "terrible economy" from Clinton, regardless.

  5. Anon 11:37,

    The census hiring accounted for 66,000 of the 230,000 jobs added. Jonathan's point that it's becoming harder and harder to argue that the economy isn't recovering is still quite valid.

  6. And more to the point for the Anons:

    The truth is really irrelevant. We're discussing politics, which is about perceptions. And to argue that the current jobs report won't be perceived as positive for the economy, and extension, the Dems' political fortunes, is simply silly.

    Don't confuse your feelings towards an outcome with it's likelihood.

  7. Well, as a former longtime Democrat (thank you Barack for bringing me to my senses), I think the Democrats would be insane to even mention the economy. Unless they are able to balance the budget. Despite the endless corporate propaganda they are putting out to convince us that their deficits are rational, sustainable and defensible, there really aren't any adults who believe that. Everyone knows that you have to pay your bills. Period. It's not even open for discussion. If they don't address this problem what's happening in Greece will seem like child's play.

    And despite the endless efforts to blame the recession on the Repubs, the reality is that the Democrats have had solid control of Congress for nearly 4 years now, and are indisputably responsible. I despise the Repubs, but the facts are the facts. Their hasn't been any real recovery that I can see, except for the Obama's corporate buddies, who are doing well. The one real hope was health care reform, and they not only didn't fix that, they made it much worse.

    My suggestion to the Democrats, if there are any left, is to pretty much accept that they will suffer significant losses in November, write off this year, begin reconstructing and looking ahead. Most importantly they need to find someone to replace Obama as their leader and presidential nominee. There's no possible way he could win another election, as will become obvious in New Hampshire and Iowa in 2012. I voted for the SOB, but now I hate him to the core of my being. Worst president ever. I'm a progressive leftie who get sick at the very mention of Palin's name, but I'd have no trouble at all voting for her if the alternative was Obama. None at all. She couldn't possibly be worse.


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