The Campaign Spot

Unemployment Rate Down Slightly; Standard of ‘Good News’ Down a Lot

What has President Obama lowered the most?

The total number of Americans in the U.S. labor force? (154,424,000 in February 2009, 154,198,000 in October 2011)

The total number of Americans employed? (141,687,000 in February 2009, 140,302,000 in October 2011)

The employment population ratio? (59.6 percent in February 2009, 58.7 percent in October 2011)

All good guesses, but I would argue that what Obama has lowered most is our expectations.

AP: “The jobs crisis may be easing on the strength of a fourth straight month of modest hiring and a dip in the unemployment rate.”

Reuters: “Jobs report hints at some improvement.”

All of these relatively cheery headlines and ledes because of 80,000 jobs added, and unemployment moving from 9.1 percent to 9.0 percent. (As I have noted before,  the size of the labor pool normally grows from month to month, and while economists disagree on precisely how many jobs need to be added each month just to keep pace with the additional workers, it generally ranges from 100,000 per month (AP) to 100,000–125,000 (Heritage Foundation) to about 130,000 (New York Times).)


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