April Job Numbers Put Private Sector Job Growth In The Black For President Obama
The April job numbers came in below consensus again this month but upward revisions of the previous two months combined with the 115,000 new jobs keeps the six month average to a decent 197,000 jobs per month. Private sector job growth hit positive for the first time under President Obama.
In the first 13 months of Obama's presidency the private sector lost 4.212 million jobs. Since then in 27 months the private sector has added back 4.247 million jobs. That +35,000 jobs represents a milestone in this recovery.
Due to having lost 607,000 jobs in the government sector over that same span, nonfarm is at -572,000 and has a few more months to go before it goes into the black. That will be another significant milestone.
The unemployment rate declined to 8.1% almost entirely because of changes in workforce. It has been up and down over the last 4 months starting at 63.7%, increasing to 63.9%, then falling to 63.8% and 63.6% where it sits today. There is still chronic long term unemployment that is creating a lot of pain and contributing to the workforce participation declines.
So the economy continues to look like a losing argument if the GOP wants to make the case for an Obama failure. Jobs are still growing. The stock market is still growing. Residential investment is increasing. Cars are being purchased. There have been slight upticks in Initial weekly unemployment claims but overall they remain pretty low. Gas prices are declining again for now taking a little drag out of the economy.
It's been a long uphill climb out of the recession. Obama's critics think it should have been a faster recovery somehow without a strong financial system and without a housing construction industry. There has still been a recovery nonetheless and Obama will be able to use that in his reelection campaign whether the GOP likes it or not.
Posted by Adam Ducker at May 4, 2012 8:39 AM
63.6% participation rate. We have not been that low in thirty years. And even with that low rate, we still have more than 8%, that number that Obama’s folks told us would be the dire consequence of NOT approving his stimulus.
The Washington Post has a good editorial today. It talks about Ford Motor (not one of the bailed out) and how it took out lots of debt. BUT they spend the money wisely and now are doing well.
Obama took a lot of debt. This may or may not have been a good thing, but he spent it poorly. So now we have debt but weak recovery.
C&J: “And even with that low rate, we still have more than 8%, that number that Obama’s folks told us would be the dire consequence of NOT approving his stimulus.”
Still with the 8% thing? A projection from a document does not make it a promise as many on the right have said or a “dire consequence” as you say. There has been an attempt to suggest that the stimulus failed because it didn’t meet 8% or perhaps even since it went to 10% with the stimulus then the stimulus caused that. I’m not sure how you feel on either of those points.
The point was not about the 8% but the fact that it was supposed to prevent another 1% rise in unemployment over where it would be without. CBO projects ARRA to have:
* Raised real GDP by between 0.2 percent and 1.5 percent
* Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.2 percentage points and 1.1 percentage points
* Increased the number of people employed by between 0.3 million and 2.0 million, and
* Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 0.4 million to 2.6 million.
Sounds good to me. Not a total success but certainly not a total failure.
“So now we have debt but weak recovery.”
The debt has little to do with the strength of the recovery. Debt can hurt the economy over the longer term but we know this recovery is weakened by the nature of the recession and not the nature of the methods used to fight it.
This comic says a lot about the GOP strategy against Obama. Meanwhile Obama remains on top of Romney even with Rasmussen which tends to favor conservative candidates and issues.
It is the doldrums. I wrote a post inspired by yours. I am not an Obama hater. I wish it would have worked, but it didn’t. I think the Obama reforms took us down a blind alley. The money was not spent well and the Administration is just poorly run. I don’t think Obama is really paying attention and he is not up to the job. He is a wonderful showman, a great campaigner but a mediocre president.
I understand that you guys disagree. But you really cannot be happy with the Obama performance. His promise was so great that nobody could live up to it, but he has not even reached average.
C&J: “I understand that you guys disagree. But you really cannot be happy with the Obama performance.”
And yet I am. Do I trust for a moment that McCain would have done better? That Romney would have done better? Not even a split second. President Obama has done the best he can with a bad situation. The right’s argument is “Look how bad Obama has been at cleaning up the mess we created!”
I don’t think McCain knew a thing about the economy. I don’t know that he would have done better.
But Obama also is clueless about the economy. He really seems to believe that BS that government can manage in some detail.
I also find fault with your formulation “mess we created”. It is not because of my partisan idea that it attacks my guys. Rather it indicates the idea that the government is really driving the process. In fact, the Obama metaphor about driving the car into the ditch indicates this same lack of understanding of the complexity.
The Europeans, who had a very different management by government, are in deeper ditches than we are. If they made that left turn and we made a right turn, how did we both end up in the same ditch, them deeper?
I think there is a big difference between liberals and conservatives that gives us a big advantage in leadership and business but gives you big advantages in electoral politics. We (in our real form) believe in indirect methods. We cannot make promises as easily.
I have had this problem in my own career. The places I run always work well. People think I am the luckiest man in the world. What I try to do is create conditions and incentives that allow others to prosper and it works. However, I cannot point to specific actions.
Others are more “active”. IMO - they seem to create problems so that they can get credit for solving them. They are less “lucky” than I am. I have a reputation as someone who gets things done, but they use adjectives such as detached. I think they fail to understand that it is the detachment that is the reason for the success.
IMO - the unfortunate things is that judging performance is like trying to decide who won a race in the dark and fog. We often judge by who is bragging the loudest. This is wrong. It is even worse in politics than other places because of the partisan spin.
What did Obama do? He talked a lot and spent lots of money. As a result many people say that “it must have worked”. Things are worse than even Obama folks predicted, but since he spent a lot and talked a lot, his followers say that it would have been worse. On what do we base that? Obama folks say that it must have been worse because it IS worse now than it was supposed to be. The talk and spending, they assume, worked.
C&J: “I also find fault with your formulation ‘mess we created’.”
Conservatives lead the White House and Congress for years before the recession started. You seem to think blaming the recession on liberal policies excuses your conservative politicians from blame for failing to lead on the issue. This is the mess than conservatives created.
“Obama folks say that it must have been worse because it IS worse now than it was supposed to be.”
You say that as if I don’t base my opinion on the models of economists at CBO and Moody’s or Macroadvisors that say we are better off now than before the stimulus and the stimulus improved conditions, not worsened them or slowed recovery.
What we are experiencing is the culmination of several decades of government policies. These policies were passed, for the most part, by majorities of both political parties working together. Both of these parties will continue to blame eachother while continuing to work together to maintain the course that they have set our country on.
Voters will continue their exercise in futility by continuing to change the party in power in hopes of changing the course of the country, even though, in their hearts, more and more of them are beginning to realize just how marginalized they have become.
I don’t think that politicians enjoy that kind of power over the economy. They can create, or not, long term conditions that allow the people to prosper.
Re economic models - base on what they said BEFORE. The keep on modifying their predictions based on later performance.
Obama’s stimulus was badly done. It would have been okay if what he did had been free, but it was not. We went far into debt to buy something and got less than we paid for.
You are correct the stimulus was badly done. Obama compromised on the stimulus with the Republicans, he did not spend enough money fast enough to satisfy you side of the isle’s idea of how the economy should work.
We are stuck in the 30’s again because we listened to the lase’ fair economests again. We are that stupid. The worst part of this is that factoring in inflation, the money we borrow to pay for improvements and keep the economy going would have us paying back less than we borrowed.
To use the Right’s analogy, if you have a company and are looking to improve it and use money you borrow to buy stuff to make you company work better and can borrow the money at 3% APR or less. Have no issues being able to pay the payments you would be laughed out of almost all conference rooms for not borrowing the money.
What did Republicans “force” democrats to spend on? As I recall, the Democrats did not require ANY Republican votes to pass their stimulus. They chose how to spend money and they did a poor job of it.
Unlike conservatives under Bush you won’t find me saying I think the economy is doing great. I think Obama has made the best of a bad situation and there’s plenty room for improvement. We know the cause of the “Obama doldrums” but tell me what were the cause of the Bush doldrums?
Conservatives tried for years to pretend the Bush economy was just as good as under Clinton and when the job numbers finally approached the numbers Clinton had at the end of his term we were smacked with the biggest recession since the great depression.
There were times during the Bush years when the economy was doing great. We had unemployment at 4.5% and robust growth in 2005-6.
We can always look back and claim that the storm clouds were rising. We could say the same thing about 1969 or 1999 or any year when soon followed by a rapid decline.
I suppose you could say that about a warm day in September. The economy generally improves. Even in this recession, the average American has access to more and better goods and services that we did in boom times of the 1960s. But it also goes up and down.
The problem with today’s recovery is that it is anemic. Nobody could claim this is a good time.
Re the cause of the “Bush doldrums” I think it is mostly that we just ran out of steam and innovation. There are large cycles. We did a good job of restructuring in the 1980s and benefited for a decade.
We also had the shock of 9/11, which caused a redirecting of our energy. Energy prices were also higher than in the 1990s. Lots of reasons.
If you consider 2005-2006 robust growth then shouldn’t you consider 2010 to today robust growth?
If you compare the first 19 months of job growth after job losses stopped for Bush to the 19 months of job growth Obama has had you see Bush had 159,000 compared to Obama’s 163,000.
Taking just 2005 and 2006 it averaged 190,000. We’ve averaged 197,000 over the last six months but you’re comparing a time for Bush further after the recession than it has been for Obama.
In a way you seek to deny Obama a 2nd term by saying he hasn’t met the job growth standards in three years that Bush only met after 5. I know you prefer the Reagan recovery as a better example though and would prefer not to admit that you voted for a man who had job growth worse than Obama has had so far. I know there are many reasons to vote for or against a president but the “Obama doldrums” seem to be your primary argument against Obama.
The politicians that have benefited the most from the stimulus plan are Republican governors.
Fighting over the treatment is an excellent way for both parties to avoid addressing the cause.
The voters are overwhelmed with a plethora of secondary issues, allowing the Parties to avoid addressing the primary concerns of the people.
The next time Obama claims affinity with the 99%, ask him where the legislation addressing the concerns is.
Republicans should be attacking Obama over his legislative proposals to repeal GLB and reinstate G-S, to begin breaking up to big to fail, to curb the influence that wealth has over legislation and the direction of the country.
This is the CNN- Money report from 2005. Don’t you think it would be nice to have such a story today?
And 2010 was almost robust growth. It just petered out. It looked like we were going to have that summer of recovery, but in 2012 we see it stopped.
C&J: “Don’t you think it would be nice to have such a story today?”
That would be nice, indeed. That was four full calendar years after the recession ended though when it’s only been three for Obama. That nice story growth was later revised downward to 3.2% as far as I can tell. The average GDP growth for 8 quarters of 2005 and 2006 was 2.6%. We’ve had 2.2% in the last 8 quarters under Obama and it hasn’t even been as long.
So we see job growth and GDP in the “Obama doldrums” has been comparable to what you consider “robust” under President Bush. Why is that again? You want a recession that was almost three times as worse for Obama as it was for Bush to have a stronger recovery in a quicker amount of time or else Obama fails to get a second term like you gave President Bush. Strange.
C&J: “And 2010 was almost robust growth. It just petered out.”
What makes you think it was almost robust and then petered out? Jobs didn’t really start to return until late in 2010 and early in 2011.
“It looked like we were going to have that summer of recovery…”
There was no such thing as the “summer of recovery” but you keep repeating that enough times maybe somebody will believe it.
Both the Bush and the Obama recoveries were fueled by debt, a governmental fiscal stimulus. However, there is a big big difference: the Bush recovery was also fueled by private debt, especially in the form of house refi’s; while the Obama recovery does not have the luxury of private debt as a stimulus. The Obama recovery suffers just the opposite problem, a persistent asset deflation in real estate which consistently depresses consumer confidence and spending.
If Obama and the Democrats should be faulted, it is for playing it safe by saving the Too Big To Fail banks, and then failing to save the little guy from depressed housing prices and foreclosures. Those are two halves of the same equation. But at least Obama and most of the Democrats seems to get the problem. They resist the influence of Wall Street, even if it’s pretty feeble. The GOP is utterly in hoc to Wall Street. They’re bought and paid for, and they’ve done everything possible to prevent the problem from being addressed. Romney’s solution was to let the market forces play out, let the 99% suffer and drop and collapse into a deep bottom, on the unsupported assumption that the 99% would magically bounce back without help from government- an assumption that completely disappeared when it came to his buds in the financial sector.
C&J: “Biden and Axelrod has a recovery summer tour. They used the term and that is how it became current.
I take back my claim they never said “summer of recovery” but we’ve been over this before. They were touting a tour called “Recovery Summer” which highlighted the recovery projects going into swing that summer.
As they said when they kicked off the event:
The Administration today kicks off “Recovery Summer,” a six-week-long focus on the surge in Recovery Act infrastructure projects that will be underway across the country in the coming months – and the jobs they’ll create well into the fall and through the end of the year.
It’s easy to make it seem like a failure when you take it to an absurd level and pretend the administration was saying everything would recover that summer. Of course it wouldn’t, and it didn’t. But the largest chunk of stimulus money was spent that summer and job growth picked up right after. If this were Bush you’d call that robust.
If we would have had a recovery, they would have touted that as the point. This was a political move designed to take advantage of what they thought would be the upturn. They did not understand the economy at that time.
It is sort of like Bush’s “mission accomplished”. You guys criticized that. Technically, he was NOT saying that the mission was accomplished in Iraq in general, but everybody took the message. The summer of recovery was like that.
Re recovery - we have not had a really good economy since 1999. But in comparison to what we have today, it was okay in the 2004-6. I suppose that shows how bad it is today.
The accomplishment Bush was celebrating was the governments ability to force the people to support a war they wanted nothing to do with.
Iraq’s oil will pay for it all, morons.
What we have today is far more sinister than what the Founders were dealing with. The Founders were confronting a lack of representation. We are trapped in a two party political system in which the elected representatives seldom represent the majority of their constituents. Misleading, confusing and outright lying have become standard practice for our political parties and politicians.
The desire for political change is growing rapidly around the world. Conservative governments controlled by banking interests are in trouble in many places. A third party sentiment is growing in the U.S.
“Re recovery - we have not had a really good economy since 1999. But in comparison to what we have today, it was okay in the 2004-6. I suppose that shows how bad it is today.”
What nonsense! The economy of 2004-2006 was demonstrably a phony economy fueled by an enormous private sector mortgage backed credit expansion (money creation) supported by an astounding inflation in housing equity. It was a debt fueled economy.
The bubble burst and we now know that the economy of 2004-2006 was fatally flawed.
The economy of 2012 may be struggling to gain traction but it, thus far, is not being supported by another bubble (although the equity and commodity markets may be suspect).
I don’t know about you, but I would prefer a slow and steady pace at economic recovery. A recovery based upon economic fundamentals and not bubbles.
In my opinion, those demanding or expecting a sharp economic recovery are in denial of rather obvious facts: huge private sector debt resulting from the housing bubble; loss of manufacturing base and international wage arbitrage, excessive financialization of our economy, etc.
in 2004, it didn’t seem like a bubble. Most people thought real estate had reached a new and higher level. That is why they kept on buying it and taking out loans to buy more.
Commodity prices, BTW, seem to be a little high. If China slows significantly, these prices will drop.
The problem with all these unstable bubbles (as I mention on the other side) is that they become evident only in retrospect. On the other hand, some “bubbles” identified at the time turn out to be actual changes. Many economists have predicted ten out of the last two recessions.
Even stock and real estate prices, for all the corrections, have been okay in a long run. I recall people saying that a Dow of 5000 was an unsustainable bubble. If you sold all your stocks back then, you missed a big opportunity. We bought our house in 1997. People told us it was a bit pricy. It is worth significantly more today.
Subsequent history makes most predictions look stupid. That is why smart prognosticators make ranges of predictions so that they can later claim success from a variety of outcomes.
The 8% figure was based on information that soon became outdated. The first figures had something like a three percent drop in GDP, annualized. In reality, it was 8.9%, but they didn’t know that yet.
What this would mean is that the Stimulus was of insufficient size and speed for its target unemployment rate. Your party, though, wasn’t even happy with that much. You can complain that not enough infrastructure spending was involved, but your people rejected that, too, in favor of additional tax cuts- tax cuts which themselves had failed to halt the economic slide when Bush signed them into law at the beginning of 2008.
The only thing tying your arguments together, logically, is your opposition to anything Obama did or suggested.
The Mission Accomplished sign meant EXACTLY WHAT IT SAID. It was Bush counting his chickens before they hatched, a bad habit we first saw signs of in Tora Bora. You are just engaging in post hoc historical revisionism, a bad habit you’ve engaged it much lately.
You can talk about growth in 2004-2006, but that’s basically the Wall Street/Real Estate bubble at work, and even with that, almost half his administration is spent losing jobs. Even Ford, who had only 30 months in office, created jobs more robustly than he did.
As for the expectations you keep on citing on the Stimulus?
It’s one thing to mess things up politically, but the plan delivered the jobs and the growth it was supposed to. The problem was that it was formulated in a time where people had a more optimistic notion of the damage that disaster did our economy.
But, if you had your druthers, you would have stimulated the economy even less, or sent it all out as tax cuts, which the previous decade’s performance did not validate.
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