Political Animal


October 03, 2012 9:10 AM The Run-Up To Friday’s Jobs Report

By Ed Kilgore

Friday’s September Jobs Report is perhaps the last predictable external event that could affect the presidential contest. Yes, there will be one more of the suckers the Friday before Election Day, but by then maybe a third of the vote will have already been cast, and the undecided vote will have declined to a distant murmur. So given the state of the race and the continued reliance of both parties on perceptions of the direction of the economy, the September numbers could offer the final shot.

ADP’s private payroll report for September is out, showing gains of 162,000 jobs, beating predictions by a comfortable margin (though reported gains for previous months were adjusted downward). At the moment, Reuters is reporting an expectation that the official BLS report will show net job gains of 113,000. That’s not a large enough number to quiet shrieks of dismay from Republican spinners, particularly if (as is very likely) the unemployment rate pretty much stays the same. But if the number comes in at five figures, we’ll hear an unearthly din of complaints and predictions of even greater calamity if Obama is re-elected. If this sort of thing annoys you, it might be a good idea to tune out on Friday morning, particularly in the hour or so after the usual 8:30 EDT release time for BLS.

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.


  • T2 on October 03, 2012 9:17 AM:

    there is not going to be a job number so bad it will help Romney at this point. If the unemployment number shoots up to 8.6%...maybe a few swing votes. But if the numbers are in line with expectations, then that's that. If the job number goes to a million, the GOP will still say Obama has failed on jobs. It's October - people are voting, the die is cast.

  • Ronald on October 03, 2012 9:19 AM:

    Oh, I'm quite confident we will hear wailing and gnashing of teeth no matter what the jobs report says.
    Conveniently leaving out, of course, the fact that with this jobs report Mr. Obama will be in positive job growth territory, even using Mr. Romney's way of counting.
    So long as it isn't a giant crash (and there's no indication that it is at this point), it will end up as a 'meh' and have little to no impact on the polls.

  • c u n d gulag on October 03, 2012 9:41 AM:

    As long as the number on Friday is on the plus side, Obama should be ok.