Democrats are substantially more positive about the economy than are Republicans or independents, and have become more so in recent weeks, underscoring the large political component evident in how Americans view the economy . . . The timing of the improvement in Democrats’ views suggests that passage of the healthcare bill may have helped brighten their economic outlook more generally. In addition to healthcare, there are positive economic signs that could reinforce the view that the economy is improving, including recent increases in consumer spending and retail sales, and the government’s March jobs report, which showed the largest job growth in nearly three years. As is often the case, there are still indications that the economy is not improving, given that the unemployment rate remains high. Additionally, Gallup’s Daily tracking of job creation in the U.S. does not yet show substantial improvement, and while self-reported consumer spending increased modestly last month, it is nowhere near as high as in 2008, before the major impact of the recession.
A couple of months back, I illustrated how the “discouraged worker” category helped obscure just how bad the unemployment problem is. Today I use my son’s little plastic figures to illustrate how extremely modest the good news in the March jobs numbers was:
Yes, technically, the economy added 162,000 jobs. But the fine print tells another story, from several angles: temporary jobs, new workers, construction jobs, part-time workers, and the proportion of jobs created to the total number of unemployed.