The Campaign Spot

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations, Economics Division

Boy, as he writes about the economics reports due this week, the Washington Post’s Neil Irwin sets the bar really low for recovery:

The big news of the week should be Friday’s employment report, which many analysts suspect will show that the labor market, while still quite bad, continues on a path toward stabilization. Economists are expecting the unemployment rate to rise to 9.5 percent, from 9.4 percent, and for employers to have cut 228,000 net jobs in August, compared with the 247,000 jobs lost in March. That job loss number — or even better, a figure that starts with a “1,” would be strong evidence that improvement in the economy is finally filtering through to the job market in a serious way.

But there are reasons to doubt that will happen. Most notably, the rate of new jobless claims has failed to come down significantly in recent weeks, which suggests businesses are still eager to pare back their payrolls. Thursday, the Labor Department said 570,000 Americans put in new claims for unemployment insurance benefits, down only barely from 580,000 the previous week.

Got that? If the unemployment rate only increases by one tenth of one percent, and if only 199,000 Americans lost their jobs, then it’s “strong evidence” of “serious” improvement in the economy and the job market.

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