If Barack Obama hoped to get better news on employment in order to boost his efforts on ObamaCare, the news today won’t lift his spirits. New unemployment claims jumped to 554,000 this week, above analysts’ expectations:
The number of newly laid-off workers seeking jobless benefits rose last week, though the government said its report again was distorted by the timing of auto plant shutdowns. …
The increase follows two straight weeks of sharp drops largely because automakers didn’t lay off as many workers as expected in early July. General Motors and Chrysler temporarily shut down many of their plants earlier than usual this year, in May and June, after filing for bankruptcy protection and restructuring their companies.
A department analyst said the government’s seasonal adjustment process expected claims to drop sharply last week, after the normal pattern of auto layoffs was complete. But that didn’t happen, causing seasonally-adjusted claims to rise.
Weekly claims remain far above the 300,000 to 350,000 that analysts say is consistent with a healthy economy. New claims last fell below 300,000 in early 2007. The lowest level this year was 488,000 for the week ended Jan. 3.
Small wonder that Rasmussen sees even more decline in confidence in Obama’s stimulus:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 25% of U.S. voters now say the stimulus plan has helped the economy. That’s a six-point drop from a month ago.
Thirty-one percent (31%) say the stimulus actually hurt the economy, little changed from a month ago. However, this is the first poll showing that more voters believe the plan hurt rather than helped.
A plurality (36%) says the plan has had no impact.
Just after Congress passed the plan, 34% said it would help the economy, 32% that it would hurt and 26% predicted no impact.
The rising unemployment numbers will further erode confidence, and that’s not just from the jobless figures. One friend of mine has had a number of “furloughs”, time off without pay, which his company imposed in lieu of layoffs. He loses money but keeps his job, which he feels is a good deal considering the alternatives. Many companies have done the same; however, those situations don’t appear in these statistics, and they also contribute to an erosion of confidence in Obama’s stewardship of the economy.
As long as jobs keep disappearing, Obama will not build momentum for his massive spending programs. Congress already realizes this, which is why the House Energy & Commerce Committee delayed a mark-up meeting on ObamaCare for the third time. They are also losing confidence in Obama’s ability to protect them from the wrath of voters in 2010 when people start getting the bill for all of these spending plans.