September Jobs Report: Obama Boosted by Weak but Persistent Recovery

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A man waves a sign at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., in this Sept. 5, 2012, photo from the second day of the Democratic National Convention

Barack Obama’s re-election effort once looked to be a tug-of-war between two powerful political forces: the magnetism of a charismatic incumbent vs. the drain of a slow economic recovery. But a month before Election Day, the President’s charisma went missing, at least for one debate night, while new jobs numbers suggest that the economy isn’t such a disadvantage for Obama.

The headline of the government’s monthly jobs report released Friday was that the economy added 114,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.8%. That’s not all that great: the jobs total barely keeps pace with population growth, and near-8% unemployment is far from ideal. But read into the report — and between its lines — and the news should be heartening for Democrats spooked by their candidate’s poor debate performance Wednesday.

Large upward revisions to the jobs numbers from July and August, reflecting a total of 86,000 more jobs than initially estimated, suggest that the summer slowdown that had some observers crying stagnation was merely noise in the data. (They’re also a helpful reminder that economists’ predictions about jobs and growth have a large, but rarely mentioned, margin of error.) The trend over the past year has been a plodding march toward recovery, frustratingly slow but moving in the right direction. The drop in the unemployment rate in September was not caused by a shrinking labor force, by people giving up on finding jobs. Instead it was accompanied by a significant influx and 873,000 new people who said they were employed. Government employment, which nearly every report claimed was recently bleeding, actually increased by 10,000.

The political impact of such trivia from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shouldn’t be overstated. The state of the economy is largely baked into Obama’s re-election numbers at this point; a yearlong trend of modest recovery continues to favor the incumbent. And the most potentially important economic event every month is the one that still hasn’t happened: a sudden financial crash, instigated by Europe or something else, that could pull the presidential race from its moors. The number that the political press will obsess over is the unemployment rate. “No American President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won a second term in office when the unemployment rate on Election Day topped 7.2%,” goes the line in thousands of articles every month. But political-science research suggests this number doesn’t matter; the trend is more important than any absolute figure.

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That said, the media’s obsession with the unemployment rate can have its own effect. Positive headlines (like this one) can affect voters’ views of the economy and the President. The 7.8% figure is especially likely to generate positive press, for mostly arbitrary reasons: it’s below the 8% mark under which Obama’s transition team infamously predicted the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate. It also happens to be a single tenth of a percent below the unemployment rate during the month Obama took office, robbing Republicans of some of their most biting economic talking points.

This symbolic significance has led some conservatives — including no less than business luminary Jack Welch — to accuse the Bureau of Labor Statistics of cooking the books. The charge is absurd, and it says more about the frustrations of a Republican Party that was convinced for months that the economy would be Obama’s downfall than it does about the BLS’s bulletproof credibility. Mitt Romney is left with a tricky case to make. “We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July,” he said Friday, in a nifty piece of spin. “This is not what a real recovery looks like.” But the penultimate monthly jobs report before the election — the last one that will have a chance to influence many voters — is harder to debate than Obama.

680 comments
Adrian Jawort
Adrian Jawort

Slowly but surely the economy has been improving. With quick and dimwitted reactions, however, conservatives are actually angry over the fact. Such un-Americans who only applaud the failure of the U.S. and greet good news with conspiracy theories.

Ted Carr
Ted Carr

The betting odds for winning the Presidency had been at -215 Obama and +175 for Romney, and after the debate this morning's odds were at -300 Obama and +240 Romney, but after the jobs report came out the odds as of 8pm today are . . . . . . -350 Obama and +275 Romney. Which means Obama's estimated chances of winning have improved.

arjun
arjun

Performance speaks louder than debates! Both Obama and Mitt are good performers, certainly of better caliber than GWB. Now Obama is the real winner of the debate because jobs are what the voter wants.

Laurie Verso
Laurie Verso

'WORK PERFORMANCE/COMMON SENSE' You have a job with a company for the past 4 years. You have to go before "The Board" of the company to be re-instated for another 4 years. You are given a 90 minute debate to defend your work record against a person viaing for your job. (Note: you've been alloted an additional 5 minutes in this debate). At the end of the debate, "The Board" decides you have not proven your "work performance". Do you call the person viaing for your job a "LIAR"? Do you claim "altitude" sickness? Do you tell "The Board" you did not want to seem too aggressive? Do you blame your bad "job performance" on the person who worked prior to you? Do you explain to "The Board" that you need an additional 4 years to fix the company? WHAT WOULD YOU REPLY TO THIS PERSON IF YOU WERE 'THE BOARD"?

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

"What Mr. Romney has pledged so far in this campaign — that he can cut individual income tax rates without either favoring the wealthy or losing tax revenue — is a mathematically impossible feat. ... This really isn't a close call. ... take a look at what even a conservative, pro-business organization like the Tax Foundation has concluded. It projects that the Republican tax plan would produce a tax cut as much as six times greater (on a percentage basis) for the rich than for middle-class Americans, even if the tax changes spur considerable economic growth."

Cissy Williamson
Cissy Williamson

This jobs report...How can Labor DEPT decide to revise the reports for July and AUG with 86,000 part time jobs?? Also, every year since eternity, 100,000 students quit work to go back to school and SEPT is traditionally an higher unemployment rate due to this. This is scary, and unsettling, what this Obama Administration is doing to deceive the American people. What about all the students and seasonal workers who leave work before or on LABOR DAY ?

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

Is it another stunt of Obama for damage limitation after the debate? The U.S.

unemployment rate unexpectedly

fell to a near four-year low of 7.8 percent in September, the lowest since  Obama took office. Most economists were

expecting a slight rise, so the number has raised suspicions that

the White  House might be cooking the books ahead of the election

next month.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, quickly came out

with a tweet, voicing his suspicion. On his Twitter account he accused the

Obama administration of manipulating U.S. employment data for political advantage.

lurch3
lurch3

Just because I am tired of seeing the LIE about the Obama's partying up on taxpayers dime.

The cost of living... in the White House

snip:

Most of us probably think the Obamas live a lavish life on the

taxpayers’ dime, but, according to Kantor, finances are tight in the

White House. While rent is free, just about nothing else is. The

president and first lady pay for their food, parties, vacations,

butlers, housekeepers, ushers… and at Ritz Carleton prices. If they want

to bring someone on Air Force One who isn’t in the official traveling

delegation, they have to reimburse the American people the equivalent of

first-class airfare for the flight.

http://www.marketplace.org/top...

Dan5404
Dan5404

I wonder how the newfound centrist candidate is going to create jobs when he has apparently done a flip-flop on his 20% across the board tax cut, (costing 4.8 trillion)

2 trillion in defense spending not requested by anyone, plus the Bush tax cuts at 1 billion?   He says now that he will not give big tax breaks to the rich.  That's how he was going to pay for all of it.  The billionaires would suddenly hire millions of workers and we'd all live happily ever after, just as we did nder Bush plan #1.  But now, the biggest flip-flop of all...he is now pretending to be a centrist, being vague on details as usual.   Wonder how his ultra-right friends can follow the flip-flops fast enough to keep up,   

paulejb
paulejb

cin,

"Perhaps, Paul, if a certain significant proportion of the population weren't out of their minds with unfounded hatred over this president, it wouldn't cost so much to protect him."

=============================

And perhaps Barry could cut back on the White House parties and the endless fundraisers in these trying times.

Troubador222
Troubador222

Of course everyone knows this jobs report is false because Obama is a black Kenyan Muslim non human being and those people do that kind of stuff.  (Insert eye roll emoticon here)

BenevoIent  Lawyer
BenevoIent Lawyer

 Romney will champion energy independence, will approve the Keystone

pipeline and stop the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory war

on coal. Borrowing from his experience in Massachusetts, Romney will

push for more school choice for parents and students, performance pay

for teachers, and, with 3 million skilled jobs going begging, new skills

training for skilled workers.

paulejb
paulejb

MrObvious,

"Everyone loves a spelling naz!"

"Looses" instead of loses is not a spelling faux pas. It is the indication of functional illiteracy. 

floridajoe55
floridajoe55

Hey Lefty -- Can you give a specific "Tax Foundation" source?  I checked out their site and found a report titled "Would the Romney Plan Necessarily Reduce After-Tax Incomes for the Middle Class?"  Little dry reading, but here's the first sentence in the report's conclusion cut a pasted:

"Overall, this analysis shows that if one assumes a 1 percent dynamic income growth effect under Romney's plan (as interpreted by the Tax Policy Center), then low-and-middle income earners would experience a slight increase in after-tax income as opposed to a decrease."

They go on to say that if economy grows above 1%, which it is managing to do now in spite of Obama policies, "... would imply a substantive increase in after-tax income...".

Just one question if you don't mind.  If Obama is reelected with his $1T per year deficits, just what exactly do you see that will stop us from going the way of Spain, Greece, etc.?  Honestly, I don't understand why any supporter of his who has the ability to think things through to their logical conclusion isn't scared about America's future should he be reelected.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Jack's brain fart was manipulation of the 1% for political advantage.  China does appreciate his contributions.  

floridajoe55
floridajoe55

Hey lurch -- let me give you a little insight.

Not a lot of time to fact check but Wikipedia has presidential compensation at: $400K, $50K expense acct, $100K travel acct, and $19K entertainment acct.  Now if you think his all that added up covers the WH parties and his travel, to put is nicely, you're kidding yourself.

Think about what you're saying.  Just how many butlers, housekeepers, and ushers do you think are in the WH and how much do you think their paid especially to live around D.C.?  It's hard to find actual info on the first family's personal support staff as the WH isn't required to release such info.  Did find a source that quoted a 2005 NYTimes article saying WH executive chef made $80-$100K.  Don't believe it's comming out of their pockets.

They foot the bill for their regular dining, but executive functions at taxpayer expense.  So we're paying for all the holiday parties, invites of sports and Olympic teams, Jazz and Country parties, etc.  Invite a congressman over with some friends for a ballgame and suddely it's executive function.

Now I never worked in the WH, but I did work with presidential travel for years.  The reimbursement of the cost for a first class ticket doesn't even come close to covering the cost of using AF-1.  And you probably wouldn't believe what it cost the American taxpayer each time the Pres. stays over somewhere.  Gotta admit, got to see a lot of nice places for supposed business on the taxpayer's dime with Clintons.  Honestly, don't know of anyboondogle trips with Bush.  Folks got tired of going back to Crawford TX.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

It is fascinating.  Governor Liberal Massachusetts, Candidate Right Wing, Candidate Centrist.  Will he go full circle back to liberal?  Who knows?  President Obama has to  try to figure it out for the next debate.

paulejb
paulejb

Dan5404,

Nope. No where near $5 trillion. Stephanie Cutter of TEAM OBAMA shot that down.

"Obama Campaign Admits Their $5 Trillion Tax Cut Attack Is False"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Mike P
Mike P

hey Paul..you'll be crying your eyes out when O gets re-elected. Hope to read your diatribes come November. see you then Paul

paulejb
paulejb

Troupador222,

Nope. Most folks just believe that they cooked to books to make Barry look less like a loser.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Borrowing on his experience in Massachusetts he will veto everything, increase fees on everyone and leave with the lowest approval rating possible.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Secret Paule cheat sheet. Keep repeating BS and hope someone believes him.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I am waiting to cast my meaningless, useless, "democratic", sterile vote in Texas.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Your right

Ironic isn't it? You above. Seriously. Trying to act like a pretentious biatch with foreign words and such to 'dominate an argument is a sure way you act like a petty 'looser'. It's what you do best.

I would be surprised if you for once had an honest serious discussion with us but then you already told us that you're only here to agitate.

So you can keep your 'faux pas' and all that jazz you add to make us think that you're anything other than a wee lil' sprig.

And I'll laugh every single time you bite yourself in the arse with your arrogance.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 And if anyone's knows and lives functional illiteracy it's our man Paule.

floridajoe55
floridajoe55

Another deep, insightful liberal post.

Can you even begin to explain:

1.  How when almost every economist was expecting the unemployment rate to tick up it made it's biggest change (0.3%) in about 29 years?

2.  While we're use to seeing them "adjust" the previous month's jobs created number, I don't remember them adjusting the previous two months and a whopping 40,000+ at that.  Aug went from 96K to 142K -- about a 50% increase !

3.  It took several months of jobs created numbers around the 130k range to get the unemployment from 8.2 to 8.1, but magically in one month we dropped to 7.8 which just happens to be 0.1 below where it was when Obama took office.

4.  Also keep in mind Bernanke and the  Fed with their Q3 pumped billions into the economy creating a temporary boost and a lot of the creatd jobs were public sector which means paid for by tax dollars.

Just remember, they'll be "adjusting" the numbers after the election too and I'd imagine they'll go back toward reality.  If Obama does stay in office, it'll be because of all the folks who refused to think and question all the red flags.  If Obama stays another four years, we and the rest of America will be wishing for today's numbers.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Once again, paulie's link doesn't say what he claims it does and he's too brain-dead to understand why.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Sucks that the math is not on Mitts side, but at least he have tools like you spamming the same thing over and over. At least you're convinced.

paulejb
paulejb

Mike P,

It won't be me on suicide watch on November 7, Mike.

Troubador222
Troubador222

 No Paul, it is stupid and pathetic. It shows desperate paranoia. It is the type of thing that delusional people who's world view is so wrong, that any fact terrifies them to death, would come up with. 

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

But the black Kenyan Muslim part, which you ignore, is common currency in the Republican party.  Come to think of it, I think the President should just make mention of it during the next debate.  An even more bold move would be to bring up the Mormon race issues.

Won't happen.  President Obama wouldn't do that.  I'm just dreaming.

Mike P
Mike P

"most folks"...did you interview everyone in the country Paul?  wow you're a busy man Paul

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 *Nope. Most ignorant bigots believe that they cooked the books.*

Fixed that for you Paule.

BenevoIent  Lawyer
BenevoIent Lawyer

His pick of Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate cements his conservative credentials as a fiscal reformer bent on tackling the debt and entitlements, something our current president ignored

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdragon91,

Under Romney, Massachusetts credit rating was upgraded. Under Obama the credit rating of the USA was downgraded.

We can no longer afford Barack Obama.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Repeating BS is the Republican way.  Until they change the BS as Mittens did in the last debate.  Republicans choose the most utilitarian BS.  Usually it's guns, god, gays, but Mitt pulled a fast one and blew smoke at the mainstream middle class.   

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdragon91,

Don't get mad, Bugs, Obama is a loser, not much you can do about it.

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdeagon91,

Says the nitwit who believes that "looser" is a word.

1.looser

A looser is a loser who can't spell "loser".

Moron: "Hey man, you are teh looser!" 

http://www.urbandictionary.com...

MrObvious
MrObvious

Mike P

As much as we poke each others I don't think it's very suitable to wish someone to be on suicide watch.

Mike P
Mike P

thats too bad Paul

MrObvious
MrObvious

Your right

Ironic isn't it how it slaps you back after you try to change an argument by attacking someones grammar or spelling. That's why I don't. I find it petty.

Mike P
Mike P

you mean "you're right,Mike"...you see Paul it's a contraction of "you are" not the pronoun "your"...ok Paul?

paulejb
paulejb

Mike P,

Your right, Mike. Most folks that are not mind numbed Obamabots believe that the books were cooked.

BenevoIent  Lawyer
BenevoIent Lawyer

 Jesus loves you Bugs.

Although this is not something you want to hear if you are in a Mexican prison, right?

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdragon91,

Says the closeted homophobe,

Mike P
Mike P

its ok if you vote for the mormon cultist Paul but we know why the US was downgraded...now dont be a liar like your cultist buddy, Paul

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 So why is Romney getting crushed in the state most familiar with his governing style? If he is as great as you say he was surely they would welcome him back with open arms.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

If BO's such a loser, what do you call John McCain?

No, Paulie.  YOU'RE the loser.

I have never seen someone so heck-bent on hatred of our president that he/she will simply MSU to try to discredit him.

You, sir, are a pathetic example of what the right used to stand for. 

I for one will be glad to see you off this blog for a while after November 6.  I can't say I'll miss you.  'Cause I won't.

Darren Tomlyn
Darren Tomlyn

If we want to get REALLY technical, (even though it shouldn't be!) - the sounds and symbols used arn't words - it's the information they are used to represent that's the word - the sounds and symbols are a general representation of a word or a collection of words, instead...

Because this is how the language functions - some words share the same sounds/spelling, meaning some sounds or symbols can be used to represent a number of different words (that sound/are spelt the same way - such as see/sea, sale/sail, or words such as game (that I'm personally interested in) that can be used to represent a variety of pieces of information, even of differing concepts, (a thing (or things)/a thing that happens/an application of a thing that happens (an activity)), (that may not always (any longer) be related, either)).

So, is game (an activity) and game (a thing (or a collection of things) used to enable such an activity) the same word with multiple meanings, or different words that merely sound and are spelt the same.

The answer, unfortunately, HAS to be the latter - because the language cannot function any other way - (otherwise see and sea are also the same words, because they sound the same, and the spoken language always takes precedence.)

Defining/labelling the symbols/sounds etc. as words, in ADDITION to what they represent, is helping (but not the main reason), to cause a disconnect between the variety of different pieces of information, (and how they are related - usually by the concept they represent/belong to), and the sounds and symbols used to represent them.

Note: the basic rules of English grammar are not fully recognised and understood for this reason.

Obviously, looser in this context is not normally accepted to be the correct spelling for such a piece of information (word), but, of course, it is correct for looser (the opposite of tighter).

Unfortunately, language being what it is - get enough people to use and accept such a spelling, and it becomes official - whether you like it or not...

(I personally hate the use of the word shutter when shut will do the job - but that's just my opinion, and it does seem to have become widespread enough to almost become accepted, now.  'The shop is shuttered' just seems so clumsy and redundant compared to using shut instead...  (Especially when shuttered can have another meaning in the same context.))