Friday, February 5, 2010

Prez Obama's Subtle Message To All The Haters.

The other day, when it was announced that job losses for January were negligible, the usual suspects were out en masse, claiming this was result of seasonal employment. I asserted that this was still good news, and it would likely still take several more months before the unemployment rate fell. The Junior Economist in me assumed that the only way for this number to fall would be significant job growth for a given month.

Unemployment numbers for January were just released. There is good news for all Americans, not just those who voted for Obama.
By one measure the labor market showed signs of healing in January, the Labor Department reported Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 9.7% in January from 10% in December, the government said.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected the unemployment rate to remain steady in double-digits.

In the survey of households used to figure the unemployment rate, the government reported employment rose by 511,000, while unemployment fell by 430,000. The labor force rose by 11,000.

These were the factors that led to the lowest unemployment rate since August. In January, job losses continued for construction and in transportation. A positive sign was that temporary service employment increased. Employment in the manufacturing sector increased for the first month since January 2007.

In another sign of some healing, an alternative gauge of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers and those forced to work part-time, fell to 16.5% in January from 17.3% in December.

Despite the signs of improvement, the official data also reflects that this recession has been the worst in terms of job losses since the end of World War II. Average hourly earnings increased 5 cents, or 0.3% to $18.89. Economists had been expecting a 0.2% gain.

This is a new measure that includes all workers. Earnings are up 2% in the past year. The average workweek rose six minutes to 33.9 hours.
You could probably argue all day whether or not the President's decisions have any tangible impact on unemployment numbers, but one thing is for certain: if you want to blame a person when things are going bad, you likewise have to give them credit when things improve.

Is all I'm sayin'.

I can already predict the talking point used to discredit this good news. There were 9,000 temporary census workers hired in January. Someone will inevitably state that these are ACORN workers, and this is political payback for all the groundwork they did for Obama in 08'. This is categorically false, as the Census no longer uses ACORN workers after last year's faux scandal. Likewise, in a nation of millions, it's highly unlikely that hiring a mere 9,000 workers would cause the unemployment rate to drop so precipitously. I don't expect any of this common sense logic to prevent folks from dredging it up. Just watch.

Reality is, any time more Americans are working, able to pay their bills, and able to let go of the gubb'ment teet, it's reason to celebrate.

If you think otherwise, might I recommend you consult the photo at the top of this post.

Question: How will Obama-haters spin this latest bit of good news and somehow make it a negative?

Jan. jobless rate falls to 9.7%, lowest since Aug. [MarketWatch]

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