The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

We’ve Learned to Expect the ‘Unexpectedly’


In light of the jobs and economic numbers out this morning . . .

. . . in jobless claims . . .

Jobless Claims in U.S. Increased by 10,000 to 383,000 Last Week

. . . in job creation . . .

133K new jobs created.

The reading isn’t a disaster, but nothing exciting.

Last month was revised down to 113K from 119K.

The real bad news in the report: The second straight loss for manufacturing jobs.

. . . and revised GDP numbers, from 2.2 percent to 1.9 percent . . .

. . . here’s a second look at my piece from last year on why the media, and many economists, are continually surprised by the slow rate of job creation since 2008:

Groupthink is another possible explanation for why, even after three years, each bit of bad news seems to strike the business-media world as a surprise. One columnist who covers these issues closely observes that many bank economists, such as those at Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan, have been similarly optimistic in recent years, only recently slashing their forecasts. “Generally, they’re all using the same model that the White House uses, all built with a lot of these Keynesian assumptions about the impact of government spending, and about multipliers, and so on,” he says. “If you think those multipliers are way too high, then that would explain why they have been overly optimistic.”

In a way, the monthly unemployment report and quarterly economic data are like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. Each month, the administration and its faithful await the new data with optimism and eager anticipation, certain that this will be the month that the long-awaited national hiring spree begins. Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics snatches away the football — and after 30 months, many who watch the economy professionally still can’t see it coming.

In December 2010, about a half-hour after new job numbers showed unemployment hitting 9.8 percent, one CNBC anchor closed a segment, “After the break, we’ll have your e-mails about signs of economic recovery,” then he paused and chuckled, motioning to the unseen teleprompter. “Yeah, that was written before 8:30.”

Tags: Economy , GDP


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