U.S. employers stepped up hiring in October and the jobless rate ticked higher as more workers restarted job hunts, a hopeful sign for a lackluster economy that has dragged on President Obama’s reelection chances.
Here is a compilation of analysis and reaction to today’s jobs reports showing unemployment rate at 7.9%.
Derek Thompson frames the report:
For months, it looked like the unemployment rate was falling inexplicably fast. It turns out we were counting jobs added too slowly. … Where is this new-look recovery coming from? It’s coming from the beginning of a real housing recovery and the end of government austerity. In 2010 and 2011, the economy lost 477,000 public sector jobs. This year, we’ve added 20,000. That’s made a huge difference.
Ed Morissey, on the other hand, sees only negatives:
The U-6 number didn’t move much from the previous month. It was 14.7%, and it’s now 14.6%. When Obama took office, it was 14.2%; six months ago, it was 14.5%. The overall unemployment situation isn’t improving significantly at all.
Kevin Roose rebuts:
Today’s report came with a side of crow for all of us Chicken Littles, because it showed, nearly unmistakably, that we’re in a slow, steady recovery — one that could and should be faster and less mistakable, but one with solid positive trajectory nonetheless. … [T]he numbers do describe, in the clearest terms we’ve seen yet, that our unemployment crisis is on the mend. And unless you’re a partisan hack for whom political momentum is more important than the alleviation of human misery, that’s a good thing.
Greg Ip looks ahead:
These numbers are encouraging but after so many disappointments in recent years, not reason enough to sound the all clear. After all, it was just last winter that employment was advancing more than 200,000 per month before sinking under the triple threat of America’s fiscal cliff, Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, and a sharp slowdown in emerging markets. The latter two threats have both receded somewhat but the fiscal cliff hasn’t, and slumping corporate profits and weak business investment suggest the economy is already suffering; it’s something of a surprise that hiring has not fallen as capital spending has, and one wonders in which direction the discrepancy will be resolved. Still, if the cliiff is successfully dealt with after Tuesday’s election, then there are real grounds for optimism here.
Joshua Brown breaks down the sector data:
Some interesting sub-stats – healthcare hiring remains unstoppable, which feeds into our bullish thesis on the secular bull market happening there. The same could be said for construction hiring vis a vis the rebuilding and remodeling trend. Also, it appears that much of the drag on employment continues to be state, local and Federal – as it should be.
Zeke Miller reports on Romney’s spin:
[A]s the Romney campaign immediately pointed out, the unemployment rate ticked up from 7.8% to 7.9% as 578,000 people entered the labor force last month — with the rate now lying above the point it was on Inauguration Day in 2009. Additionally, in a sign that the economic crisis is still not in the rear view mirror, there has been no increase in take-home pay … “Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill,” said Romney in a statement.
Daniel Gross explains the unemployment rate issue that Romney glommed onto:
The unemployment rate ticked up in October from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent. How can that be…? The unemployment rate is a function of how many people say they are in the workforce and how many say they are working. In October, the workforce grew by 578,000, which is a good sign. It means more people are looking for work and eager to enter the jobs market. But the number of people who said they were employed rose by a smaller number – about 410,000. And so the unemployment rate rose.
Mark Kleiman weighs in on “the last wild card in the electoral deck”:
Romney didn’t need a mixed bag: he needed a shockingly bad number. His odds on Betfair lengthened to 7/2 (22% chance of winning, which is pretty close to Nate Silver’s current 19%).
Jared Bernstein asks voters to consider today’s report in context. He writes that, “if there’s anyone out there who’s making up their mind based on this one report, please don’t”:
Yes, the monthly employment numbers provide important information about the part of the economy that matters most to people, but that information must be considered as but one relatively noisy set of indicators amid a sea of others. I always stress … the importance of smoothing out some of the monthly noise by averaging over the past few months. As noted, employment growth slowed notably in the second quarter of this year, increasing by only 67,000 jobs per month, but has since accelerated up to an average monthly gain of about 170,000 over the past four months.
And Ed Kilgore ponders the political significance for Obama:
This year’s average monthly gain up until now has been 146,000; this report lifts it to 154,000. Some may recall that Nate Silver called 150,000 new jobs a month Obama’s “magic number” for putting himself in a good situation for re-election…. GOPers are probably cursing their luck that the rate did not go back up to 8%, which would have been easy to scream about despite the quite positive nature of this report. All in all, Obama seems to be getting the late breaks in this campaign.