Once again, the jobs numbers that came out this morning are good news for President Obama. As the New York Times reports, the economy added 243,000 jobs in January, far above economists’ estimates of about 125,000 jobs. This is the best month for jobs since April.
Unemployment, meanwhile, fell from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent and long-term unemployment also edged down. This was also better than expectations, as most economists predicted the rate would stay steady. The rate is the lowest since February 2009, just as the recession was ending and the Obama administration beginning. The stock market would hit bottom in March that year and, always a leading indicator, then begin to recover. The recession officially ended in June, 2009. But unemployment is a lagging indicator and the fact that it is now at the lowest point since the recession officially ended is a strong sign that recovery is finally under way.
Will it keep falling and give Obama a boost to his re-election chances? It might, but there are likely to be bumps along the way. Housing prices are still falling and long-term unemployment is still very high. As jobs increase, people who had ceased looking for work—and thus were not counted as being unemployed–tend to come back into the job market, causing a temporary increase in the unemployment number. It has been a very mild winter in most of the country, giving a boost to construction jobs. That might adversely impact construction job growth this spring.
But there’s no question they are happy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this morning.