Politics

10.05.12

Conspiracy Theorists, It's Showtime!

I assume that several of our house conservatives have been sitting around this morning waiting for this post on the new BLS data so they can trot out their conspiracy theories or note that the "real" unemployment rate is 11 percent. So, go have fun.

I think it's a little sad to see people so openly rooting against America and against people finding work. That much-discussed Jack Welch tweet was an abomination. As TNR's Alec MacGillis tweeted back, it's always nice to see a leading figure of American commerce cheer against his country and its economy. And "BLS cooked-the-numbers" theories are just silly. This monthly gathering of data is a massive job that goes on all month long involving thousands of people and inputs.

The great news about this report and the new jobless rate of 7.8 percent, down below 8 for the first time since Obama took office (how's that for a stump-speech line?), is that it happened for the right reason: The labor force grew, meaning that more people are out there looking for work, which is a contrast to some previous months when the rate fell because the labor-force participation rate decreased. And the revisions to the last two months, adding 86,000 jobs, is especially heartening.

In substantive terms, it is certainly true that the participation rate is lower than it was in January 2009 by a couple percentage points. And it's also true that 114,000, the new number, isn't enough to keep up with the growth in the size of the labor force. So substantively, it's not a great number.

But we're in the home stretch of a presidential campaign. So politically, the number is really good for Obama. Just what he needed. God must be a Kenyan.