Political Animal


March 09, 2012 8:43 AM Another Positive Jobs Report

By Ed Kilgore

Gee, this is kind of exciting. As a West Coaster, I haven’t in the past usually been awake (or caffeinated) when these monthly jobs reports come out. It’s kinda like waiting for the moment test results or March Madness pairings come out.

At any rate, the February jobs report shows 227,000 new jobs, unemployment steady at 8.3% (many had expected the rate to tick up thanks to discouraged workers returning to the labor pool), workforce participation rates up slightly. Job gains were pretty general across the private sector economy, and for the first time in ages, government employment was steady rather than rapidly dropping. The December and January jobs numbers were revised upward as well, reinforcing the sense that a recovery could be under way.

In terms of the political impact (this is, after all, the Political Animal), it’s worth remembering Nate Silver’s “magic number” of an average monthly jobs gain of 150,000—his calculation of what Obama would need between now and Election Day to put himself in a solid position for re-election. 2012 is definitely off to a good start.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • gopher on March 09, 2012 8:57 AM:

    When I read articles like this about jobs added I wonder what kind of jobs. Minimum wage jobs, such as fast food and big box stores, temp govt jobs with limited hours, or what? More detail please.

  • sjw on March 09, 2012 9:10 AM:

    The irony is rich as Republican leaders complain that job creation is going too slowly given that the slowness is the consequence of their own (cynical, dare I say "traitorous"?) several-year inaction on any meaningful legislation that would boost job creation (I omit from consideration here tax cuts for the rich).

  • Ron Byers on March 09, 2012 9:13 AM:

    gopher, it is a very positive sign that you raise the question. That means the economy is doing a little better and folks are beginning to think about what kind of job as opposed to just a job.

    As the parent of a couple of young people struggling to find good jobs in our economy I can tell you that a job might be easier to find, but good jobs are still rare, at least in the midwest.

  • superdestroyer on March 09, 2012 9:21 AM:

    Even if the unemployment rate was 10%, President Obams would be reelected. The Republican Party is so irrelevant that they stand no chance of beating President Obama.

    I keep wondering if the wonks and historians will be writing in January 2017 that President Obamqa was hampered by the Bush economy for the entire 8 years that President Obama was in office.

  • Grumpy on March 09, 2012 9:28 AM:

    ...Nate Silver’s “magic number” of an average monthly jobs gain of 150,000...

    It's magic because Nate Silver is a wizard.

  • j on March 09, 2012 9:31 AM:

    I agree that a lot of low paying jobs are being created but try to think about this as a positive because'
    1. Having a job, even though low paying could boost the morale of someone previously unemployed and as they are saying for some reason if you have a job it puts you in a better position to look around for something better.
    2. If the momentum keeps up and the market continues to grow there should be a growth of better paying jobs in the future.

  • Art Hackett on March 09, 2012 9:42 AM:

    A positive jobs report is always welcome but I miss the "home made chart."

  • Below the Beltway on March 09, 2012 9:55 AM:

    Are we at replacement level yet? The U3 number used to measure unemployment is a joke. Many million unemployed or underemployed Americans are not counted as unemployed because they are not collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

  • T2 on March 09, 2012 9:55 AM:

    it's telling that every month when a positive jobs report comes out, the Republican Party's representatives always denigrate it. Never do they say "its great that Americans are getting jobs again". The Party of Doom. The GOP bet the farm that they could obstruct the economic recovery enough to get rid of the hated Obama. Party of Hate. Gloomy Old Party. At a time when all Americans should be pulling together, Republicans only try to pull us further apart. Party of Apart. or is that Apartheid?

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on March 09, 2012 10:11 AM:

    I agree that a lot of low paying jobs are being created but try to think about this as a positive because....

    Also 3. Lower unemployment means fewer Republicans in power, hence more probability of future policies aimed at creating good jobs rather than trying to destroy the economy.

    Man, news like this must be crushing for traitorous Republicans.

  • Diane Rodriguez on March 09, 2012 10:24 AM:

    Good economic news is closely followed by an onslaught of Obama against the GOP conspiracy theories on a variety of subjects and more Medieval pronouncements about women. I so enjoy watching the GOP chucklenuts hopping up and down after shooting themselves in the foot. Meanwhile their mega wealthy buyers throw money in the ring to encourage more mindless pecking. Poor John Boehner looks like needs a liver transplant ASAP.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on March 09, 2012 10:32 AM:

    "...Obama against the GOP conspiracy theories on a variety of subjects...."

    We can't forget that most dastardly of his plots: Actually trying to improve things to thwart the Republican sabotage. How dare he?

  • Fess on March 09, 2012 10:48 AM:

    On the personal front, my 30-something son with a degree from a top rated university has finally found a real job. His "unreal" job was at a big box book store for $10-11/hr (last day tomorrow). The new "real" job in CA's Silicon Valley pays an actual salary with opportunities for upward mobility. A salary sufficient to move him out of the working poor category is very exciting.

    Reclaiming the U.S. one job at a time.

  • cmdicely on March 09, 2012 11:09 AM:

    A bit of pet peeve, but this isn't true (part of the distortion is the BLS's fault, part of it is inaccurate reporting of even what is in the BLS press release):

    At any rate, the February jobs report shows 227,000 new jobs, unemployment steady at 8.3%

    What the report shows is the actual unemployment rate dropping 0.1% to 8.7%.

    The number you are quoting for the unemployment rate (though its what the BLS press release says about that rate) isn't the unemployment rate, its the unemployment rate after applying the seasonal adjustment factor which is used because it is believed to make a better indicator of long-term trends, presuming that there isn't restructuring of the economy which changes the seasonality of employment (since it isn't the actual current rate, it is a worse indicator of the current situation whether or not the assumptions hold that underlie its use as an indicator of long-term trends.)

    And the number you are quoting as "new jobs" is doubly wrong -- its the increase in seasonally adjusted non-farm employment, which is neither a real current measure nor a measure of total job growth (because farm jobs are, you know, actual jobs, but the BLS establishment survey, from which the numbers are drawn, only includes nonfarm employers.) The actual increase in current nonfarm employment, before the seasonal adjustment, was 851,000.