Former Obama economic adviser on jobs report: What did you expect from our measly growth rate?
posted at 12:41 pm on August 3, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
How goes the post-jobs report spin for Barack Obama, his administration, and Democrats in general? After all, the number of jobs added (163,000) wasn’t bad, especially considering that the previous three months averaged only half of that number. One might expect apologists for the Obama White House to hail that number as “a step in the right direction,” the facepalm claim from Obama himself after a lousy jobs report for June. One might expect that even from someone who used to work for President Obama on the very economic policies that puts us in position to think of a treading-water job-creation level as relatively good news. However, Austan Goolsbee dispensed with the spin on CNBC earlier today, arguing that this was as good as we could expect from our “measly” growth rate:
Jim Pethokoukis gives us some gloomy context for today’s report:
– Not only is the 8.3% unemployment rate way above the 5.6% unemployment rate that Team Obama predicted for July 2012 if Congress passed the $800 billion stimulus plan. It’s way above the 6.0% unemployment rate they predicted if no stimulus was passed. …
– The broader U-6 unemployment rate, which includes “all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons,” ticked up to 15.0%.
– Two years ago, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wrote his now-infamous “Welcome to the Recovery” op-ed for the New York Times. During those two years, the economy has added an average of just 137,000 jobs a month.
– Not only is the 8.3% unemployment rate way above the 5.6% unemployment rate that Team Obama predicted for July 2012 if Congress passed the $800 billion stimulus plan. It’s way above the 6.0% unemployment rate they predicted if no stimulus was passed.
Here’s another fun fact: today’s 8.3% jobless rate is exactly what it was in February 2009, when Obama got his $838 billion stimulus package. At that point, the civilian participation rate in the workforce was 65.8%. Today’s was 63.7%. In February 2009, we had 80.392 million people not participating in the workforce; as of July, that number has grown by almost eight million people, to 88.34 million, which took 42 months to grow. The time it took previous to February 2009 to add eight million to those not in the workforce was 92 months, more than double the amount of time.
National Journal calls the report “a heavy dose of Nothing Changed” in the presidential campaign:
The report showed the economy added 163,000 net jobs last month, per the Labor Department’s survey of business payrolls; a separate survey of households showed nearly 200,000 job losses, pushing the unemployment rate up from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent. Read those numbers thus: The economy is very slowly healing; the pace of recovery isn’t picking up; and, with a big caveat about Europe, we don’t look headed back toward recession anytime soon. …
It looks increasingly likely, three months from Election Day, that this is the economic picture that will stick in voters’ minds when they select their next president. It does not appear to be the sort of picture that will tip the election either to President Obama or his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. A late-summer surge in hiring might have given an edge to the incumbent. A return to recession would be lifting the challenger.
Instead, the race is a dead heat in most national polls. Weak growth and persistently high unemployment remain the fundamental reasons Obama could lose re-election. But the data suggest that weakness, by itself, might not be enough to put Romney over the top.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell highlighted an op-ed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner published exactly two years ago as evidence that the Obama administration’s economic policies have failed.
The op-ed, entitled “Welcome to the Recovery,” appeared in the New York Times, and said the U.S. “suffered a terrible blow, but we are coming back.” It detailed a number of strains still facing the economy, but said “the actions we took at its height to stimulate the economy helped arrest the freefall, preventing an even deeper collapse and putting the economy on the road to recovery.” …
“Well, I think it’s pretty obvious that the Treasury secretary jumped the gun on that one,” Mr. McConnell said Thursday. The Kentucky Republican added: “Secretary Geithner was right to say that the president’s policies were having an effect on the economy. He was clearly wrong to conclude they were anything approaching a lasting, positive effect.”
If today’s remarks by Obamanomics architect Austan Goolsbee are any indication, that looks increasingly like a consensus opinion.