Political Animal


March 08, 2013 9:02 AM February Jobs Report: Surprise!

By Ed Kilgore

It’s Jobs Report Friday, and the February numbers, expected to show a net gain of 160,000 jobs with steady unemployment, instead showed 236,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate dropping to 7.7%. These were the largest monthly gains since last February. Gains were posted in nearly every private-sector category; government employment dropped modestly by 10,000 jobs.

It wasn’t all good news: the January jobs increase was adjusted downward by 38,000 (with a smaller upward adjustment for December). And despite the unemployment rate being the lowest since December of 2008 (!), the workforce participation rate remains stagnant.

Overall, the news was good enough to spur talk of a stock sell-off in anticipation of a possible relaxation of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve Board. It will be interesting to see how Republicans spin the numbers: perhaps they will say the improvements were a joyful private-sector anticipation of the public-sector spending cuts created by the sequester! You never know what these birds will come up with next. But it’s not a good morning for Peggy Noonan, whose Friday column lectured Barack Obama for letting the jobs situation deteriorate while he played his budget games.

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.


  • Lance on March 08, 2013 9:34 AM:

    The neat thing is, next month we can expect it to be recomputed to be even higher than this.

  • c u n d gulag on March 08, 2013 9:36 AM:

    GOP POV:

    Unemployment down?

    Well, we can’t have THAT, now can we?

    Where will our party be, if people are insufficiently angry and afraid?

    Well, that’s what this whole “Sequester” thing is for us – a way keep the economy bad and to keep the natives restless.

    Now, if only some terrorists would attack NYC, or SF, or LA (the city, not the good Conservative state)?

    Let us pray…

    Oh, and Peggy, sit down, have another triple-martini, and STFU! You aren't helping!

  • sjw on March 08, 2013 10:26 AM:

    These Republican critics of the jobs situation are a bunch of nasty f**kers. They refuse to pass any legislation that would help the situation; instead they frustrate Obama's every attempt at stimulus, which is the medicine most economists say the economy needs. Crazier, still, they push the deficit issue, which has cut into the strength of the economy here and proven to be the undoing of the European recovery.

  • reidmc on March 08, 2013 10:28 AM:

    Noonan "On the plane home I read a piece by Mort Zuckerman, who's emerged as one of the most persuasive and eloquent critics of the president's economic policy."

  • Jim 195 on March 08, 2013 10:43 AM:

    I'm from another planet, just learning English. Why do you earthlings always use the term "Peggy Noonan" to mean "person who is demonstrably, self-righteously wrong"?

  • Blue Girl on March 08, 2013 10:54 AM:

    I'm from another planet, just learning English. Why do you earthlings always use the term "Peggy Noonan" to mean "person who is demonstrably, self-righteously wrong"?

    Because four syllables is easier to spit out than 13. That saves nine to fill with invective.

  • c u n d gulag on March 08, 2013 11:48 AM:

    Blue Girl,
    *Thunderous applause!!!*

  • JM917 on March 08, 2013 12:18 PM:

    This is one more reason why the Repugs are now cheering on the sequester. If it starts to bite, unemployment is going to tick upwards, especially in states like my own Virginia--magnificent proof, of course, of the economic disaster that Obama is inflicting on our Exceptional Nation and its job creators.

    Obama needs to be out there every week, reminding the public of where the blame falls. Without mischief like the sequester and all the other GOTea maneuvers to put the economy on skids, we might be seeing the beginning of a sustained (and long-overdue) recovery stretching all the way to 2016.

  • Renai on March 08, 2013 1:36 PM:

    If Ms. Noonan hasn't noticed her inability to interpret the political signs correctly by now, why she start this particular week?

  • JEA on March 09, 2013 10:20 AM:

    The problem with Republicans changing is that they've carefully built up an ideological base for the last three decades, and such ideology isn't given up easily. Human nature doesn't allow it. It's why we still have creationists shrilly and back-handedly trying to get it into science classrooms in the 21st century. It's why we still have racial stereotypes and divisiveness.

    It has become what the GOP stands for, and until they find themselves thrashed in SEVERAL national election cycles, it's not going to change.