More good news for Obama in February jobs report
By Rachel Weiner,
Friday’s jobs report continued a trend of good news for the president, with 227,000 new jobs created in February.
The unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percent, because more people reentered the work force. Republicans are focusing on that number. But overall, the report contains plenty of good news, continuing a positive trend for the White House.
Hiring in December and January was also revised upwards, for an average of 245,000 jobs a month in the past three months.
Obama during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on March 6.
Not everything is rosy: The number of long-term unemployed people stayed at 5.4 million. But nearly half a million people began looking for work last month, another good sign.
After last month’s jobs report, Republicans argued that while unemployment was trending downwards, the economy was not improving fast enough.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said in his victory speech Tuesday night, “Eight percent unemployment is not the best America can do; it’s the best this president can do.”
This month, the Republican National Committee took a more aggressive tack, focusing on the 8.3 percent number to argue that things are not getting better at all.
“Today’s jobs report is yet another reminder that far too many Americans are out of work, and the situation is clearly not improving,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “Millions of families ... are still waiting on President Obama to keep his promise of an economic recovery.”
On an RNC call, economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin was more measured, saying there was “good news” in the jobs report — just not good enough. A strong economy, he argued, “would be vibrant enough to accept” those returning to the workforce. Instead, he said “the unemployment rate will at best stay flat and maybe go up.”
If more and more people return to the labor force, the recovery could be slower but stronger — giving Obama’s critics more room to attack in the short term.
As we wrote yesterday, two months of positive news has yet to have an effect on Obama’s Gallup numbers.
Economic optimism has been increasing, but opinions on the current economy are still very pessimistic.
Voters tend to focus on the unemployment rate trend line. It remains to be seen whether added jobs but a stagnant unemployment rate will be persuasive.