The White House is signaling it wants to shift back to the economy after two weeks in which the Syrian crisis has dominated President Obama’s schedule and workload.
Obama will be “focusing” on issues related to the economy in the coming weeks, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday at his daily briefing.
He said the president wants to push forward with economic policies that the White House believes will grow the middle class.
Obama tried starting off his summer with a campaign-style tour of the nation, until suddenly deciding that bombing Syria took precedence. At the time, pundits thought his sudden switch to foreign policy was a tactic to distract from his Magical Economy Tour flop. Now he needs to divert attention from his huge debacle on global security and diplomacy, and it’s any pivot in a storm.
Democrats are happy to see the pivot, so that both parties can look bad, rather than just the one controlling foreign policy:
The pressure off for now on Syria, Democrats are eager to return to Washington’s regularly scheduled gridlock.
Pitched debates loom on the government’s budget and its debt – never flattering endeavors that in recent years have sunk the nation’s credit rating and Congress’ popularity.
At least those debacles made both parties look bad. For Democrats, that’s a welcome reprieve from the political turmoil President Barack Obama stirred with his on-off bid to get Congress to get behind the missile strike he wanted to launch against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons in a civil war.
At least the White House got some good news on that front today, with the lowest weekly initial jobless claim level in years— but don’t get too excited:
In the week ending September 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 292,000, a decrease of 31,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 323,000. The 4-week moving average was 321,250, a decrease of 7,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 328,750.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2 percent for the week ending August 31, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 31 was 2,871,000, a decrease of 73,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 2,944,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,953,000, a decrease of 24,750 from the preceding week’s revised average of 2,977,750.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that two states had computer problems and didn’t report any numbers at all. The Department of Labor didn’t identify the states, but the revision next week is likely to be substantial.
The problem, though, is that we’re not adding jobs either — at least not in terms of population growth. The White House published data this week showing that, which I posted in the Green Room on Tuesday.
The charted level of annual job creation looks decent at 2 million a year, but not when you take into account population growth, as I explained:
We need to add about 150,000 jobs a month to keep up with population growth, which comes to 1.8 million jobs a year. At a pace of 2 million a year, it would take us 25 years to create enough jobs to catch up to the 5 million who have left the work force since January 2011, when the stagnation curve starts in this chart.
Even the people who put Obama-era jobs reports in the sunniest of terms pointed out this month that the jobs market is going in reverse, and that the August report was bad news. This is what we get from four years of constant pivoting — spin and running in circles. At least the spin is wearing thin, finally.