Tag Archives: jobless rate

Let’s compare apples to apples

Five days ago, Donald J. Trump posted a message on Twitter that proclaimed for the umpteenth time that his poll numbers are “better” than those posted by former President Obama.

He wrote: Presidential Approval numbers are very good – strong economy, military and just about everything else. Better numbers than Obama at this point, by far. We are winning on just about every front and for that reason there will not be a Blue Wave, but there might be a Red Wave!

The raw polling data can be disputed. However, I feel the need to look briefly at the comparative moments in time of both men’s presidencies.

Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009 while the nation’s economy was in free fall. Banks were closing. Investment firms were collapsing. People were losing their jobs by the thousands daily.

By August 2010, the economy had not yet made the turn, but it was starting to show signs of life. It got so good that Obama was re-elected in 2012 and the jobless rate continued to decline right up until the end of his presidency.

Enter Donald Trump, who took the oath on Jan. 20, 2017. The economy was in far better shape than it was when his immediate predecessor took office.

I give the president credit for the great job numbers that have accrued since he took office. But it’s good to understand that he started with a much higher benchmark than the one Obama inherited eight years earlier.

I just hope that Trump’s damaging trade wars with the EU, China, Canada and Mexico don’t undo much of the good that has occurred. I fear there the damage is beginning to stretch our economy at the seams.

Well done on job growth, Mr. President

The final monthly job-growth report card is in on President Obama’s two terms.

* 156,000 non-farm jobs were added to the nation’s payrolls in December.

* Joblessness ticked up to 4.7 percent.

* The president goes out of office while the nation enjoys 75 consecutive months of job growth, the longest such streak since 1939.

Not bad a legacy, Mr. President.

To be sure, the economic recovery hasn’t been as robust as Obama’s team would have wished. Wages haven’t grown as much; many jobs have been lost to automation as well as some companies have decided to take them offshore.

However, I need to say once again — with emphasis! — that the economy is nowhere near the dire straits that Obama’s foes have suggested. The foe in chief, the president-elect, injected a lot of unfounded fear in the hearts and minds of voters with suggestions that the economy was heading straight to hell. Donald J. Trump parlayed that fear into enough votes to be elected president.

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/312977-december-jobs-report

We aren’t where we need to be economically. The nation, though, is a heck of a lot closer to that destination than it was when Barack Obama became president of the United States.

Well done, sir.

What? The U.S. economy is stronger than we thought

There goes — maybe — another argument that Donald J. Trump used so effectively to be elected president of the United States.

He griped for months that the U.S. economy was growing at an anemic pace. We had to do better and, by golly, he was going to bring jobs back; he is going to return those jobs that had fled to China and Mexico.

Then the U.S. Commerce Department shoots a hole in that argument. It said today the U.S. economy grew at a fairly robust 3.5 percent annual growth rate in the third quarter of 2016.

Hmmm. Interesting, if you ask me.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has tripled in value during the Obama administration; joblessness has been cut in half; we’ve had 81 consecutive months of non-farm job growth; the annual federal budget deficit has been cut by two-thirds.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/22/news/economy/us-gdp-third-quarter-last-revision/index.html?iid=surge-stack-dom

OK, it won’t mean the entire year that’s about to pass into history has been pulled out of the economic ditch. The first half of 2016 produced pretty slim growth.

But the third quarter is demonstrating the distinct possibility that the economy is in better shape than Trump and his legions of doom had been saying.

Might the president-elect and his team been spouting just more campaign rhetoric?

Right-wrong track polls tell only part of story

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One of my social media friends thinks I spend too much time blogging about Donald J. Trump.

I heard him. So I think I’ll shift gears for a moment or two.

Those polls that measure whether Americans think we’re heading on the right or wrong track puzzle me. Take a look at the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls on that subject.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/direction_of_country-902.html

What these averages don’t necessarily say up front is whether Americans want the nation’s directly to veer sharply to the right or sharply to the left.

I generally pay little attention to these polls.

The RCP average says there’s a 30-plus percentage variance, meaning that about one-third more Americans think the country is heading on the “wrong track.”

No one has ever polled me on the subject. If one were to ask me, I’d say we’re doing just fine. I heard the U.S. Labor Department jobs report this morning and learned we added 161,000 non-farm jobs in October; the jobless rate declined to 4.9 percent; wages went up.

Is that a wrong track indicator regarding the economy?

I don’t think so.

Foreign policy issues? Well, we haven’t been hit by a major terror attack since 9/11. We keep killing terrorists around the world. Our alliances seem solid.

Federal budget policy? The deficit has been cut by one-third during the past eight years. Is it still too great? Yes. It’s heading in the “right direction.”

I’m digressing.

Right track-wrong track polls tell only part of the story.

Recovery bigger than presidency or Congress

Barack Obama gets a lot of blame and takes a lot of credit.

The president deserves some of the blame and much of the credit.

He doesn’t deserve all of what he gets or what he takes.

Politico has published a fascinating analysis of the economic recovery that is under way and wonders whether the president is taking too much credit for it. Its answer is “yes.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/does-obama-deserve-credit-for-economy-114107.html?hp=t1_r

I’ve been generous in my praise of Barack Obama’s handling of the financial meltdown that was occurring when he took office. He was bold and brash when he launched efforts to stimulate the economy with cash and when he persuaded Congress to enact bailout legislation that helped the automobile and banking industries.

Those efforts have paid off. Indeed, the auto industry has paid back the money it got and the Treasury is fatter because of it.

The latest job-creation numbers continue to show improvement in the economy, but as Politico points out, an $18 trillion economic machine — which is what the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is — is too big for a mere president or Congress to control.

As Politico reports: “Republicans say the economy is finally – and only partially – shaking off the impact of Obama policies like the Affordable Care Act, tax hikes and financial reform, all of which they contend slowed down growth. And they point to paltry wage gains once again evident in the December jobs report. Democrats say that’s sour grapes from partisans whose warnings of a disastrous ‘Obama economy’ look increasingly ridiculous.”

Furthermore, writes Politico: “Economists – on the left and right and in the middle – say the facts suggest a vastly more complex middle ground. Obama deserves significant credit for some shrewd and politically difficult moves early on his presidency, economists say, including the stimulus and the automobile and Wall Street bailouts.”

Congressional Republicans are now trying wrestle some of the economic recovery credit away from the president. Some have joked that the GOP has taken control of the full Congress only since Monday, noting that Democrats have run the Senate while the House has been in GOP hands only since 2011.

I’ve also noted that credit for the recovery can be shared, just as blame can be found on both sides for the collapse that occurred in the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

http://highplainsblogger.com/2015/01/01/how-about-sharing-the-credit/

The bottom line is that the economy is too huge, too complicated and contains too many traps for a single set of policies to manipulate.

 

Politics shows nasty side once again

Once upon a time I thought of politics as a noble profession. I subscribed to the Robert F. Kennedy view that politics should be a force for positive change and reform of what we think is broken in our society.

I continue to believe politics has the potential for nobility.

Then we hear the carping that arose from the U.S. Labor Department’s jobs report for January.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/07/republicans-slam-president-over-jobs-report/?hpt=hp_bn3

Republicans were quick to pounce on the numbers, which weren’t as good as the White House had thought would come out. The nation added “only” 113,000 jobs in January, down from the expected 178,000. The jobless rate ticked down a bit, to 6.6 percent. It’s down from its high of 10 percent in 2009, but still too high to suit the loyal opposition.

“Today’s jobs report underscores that there remains a real crisis for the chronically unemployed in this country. It’s too hard for many to find good jobs, wages are stagnant, and it’s harder to get ahead,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

I guess the most annoying aspect of the reactions to these jobs numbers is that the “other side” is quiet when they’re good, as they were in November and December. The labor market added about 400,000 jobs at the end of 2013. Did we hear anything then from Cantor and his congressional Republican colleagues? Their silence was deafening.

Yes, I am acutely aware that Democrats do the same thing to Republican presidents. George W. Bush couldn’t buy a break from congressional Democrats whenever his administration welcomed good economic news.

The nobility of politics has been replaced by something far less high-minded. It’s become a game of who can get the better of the other guy. It goes on and on.

I’m going to talk today to U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, who’s running for his 10th term in the House. I intend to ask him what he’s going to do to restore some sense of comity in Congress and repair its relations with the White House.

Let’s hope he can offer a noble answer.

Economy jumps ahead, but few folks notice

The latest report from the U.S. Commerce Department about the state of the nation’s economy has me wondering about something.

When are Americans going to start accepting that we are recovering from the Great Recession of 2008-2009?

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/economy/193730-economy-jumped-41-percent-in-third-quarter

Commerce officials report that the economy grew 4.1 percent in the third quarter, which is revised upward from 3.6 percent — which isn’t a bad report, either.

Joblessness is down to 7 percent. We’re adding an average of just less than 200,000 jobs a month; the vast bulk of those jobs are in the private sector. Foreclosure rates on homes are at a five-year low. Companies are making money. The stock market is rockin’ and rollin’. The Federal Reserve Board is going to start scaling back the stimulus initiatives it launched with its bond-buying.

And yet …

We keep hearing pundits, commentators and some economists harping about a struggling economy.

I totally understand that a 7 percent unemployment rate isn’t good. It’s a lot better than where it was four years ago. And it’s trending downward.

Some leading individuals — such as former Texas Workforce Chairman Tom Pauken — have griped openly about what they’ve called a “jobless recovery.” Employers are finding they’re able to boost productivity with fewer employees; I despise the term “workers,” by the way. However, we’re not in the middle of a “jobless recovery.”

I should add that energy production — which helps fuel the Texas economy — is way up. The Energy Department reports our oil imports are way down and the United States is on the verge of becoming the world’s leading producer of fossil fuels, a spot occupied for many decades by Russia.

The gloomy Gus crowd, though, keeps winning the argument.

How come? What am I missing?

Watch these jobs numbers carefully

The U.S. Labor Department is going to release some jobs numbers Tuesday, a bit later than planned.

Here’s my thinking on what we might see and what might be the reaction. The economy likely will not have added as many jobs as it has in recent months and the White House spin machine is going to kick into high gear to blame the slowdown on congressional Republicans.

The Labor Department was scheduled to send out those jobs numbers — along with the latest unemployment rate — on Oct. 4. It got delayed because part of the federal government had shut down three days earlier. That must have included those “non-essential” Labor Department analysts who crunch those numbers and release them to the public.

And why did the government shut down? It was largely because congressional Republicans kept insisting on a defunding of the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t happen. The government remained partially shuttered until just this past week, when the Senate leadership from both parties cobbled a plan together to reopen the government and lift the nation’s debt ceiling.

The impact of the shutdown, however, reportedly did have an adverse impact on the economy. Employers suspended their hiring; businesses stopped their buying, as did consumers; manufacturers slowed their output.

Some estimates put the net loss to the economy at something around $24 billion — although I haven’t yet heard anyone translate how the bean counters compute that dollar loss.

So, the latest jobs report might not be as rosy as recent reports. Republicans might try to blame it all on President Obama’s “failed economic policy,” even though the nation has added something like 8 million jobs — mostly in the private sector — during the past four years.

Democrats, meanwhile, will be able to play to citizens’ fresh memories about the government shutdown. It hurt the economy and the Labor Department numbers we get Tuesday might give Democrats more ammo to fire at their adversaries across the aisle.