The November jobs report -- 146,000 jobs created, unemployment rate at 7.7 percent -- likely will hand President Obama a bit more momentum in the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations.
The report wasn't a slam dunk for the Obama Administration -- the drop in the unemployment rate was due in part to the more than 350,000 people who stopped looking for work last month. But, it did exceed expectations -- predictions were that around 80,000 jobs would be created -- and that, combined with the dip in the unemployment rate, affirm the fact that Obama has the upper hand as the fiscal cliff approaches on Dec. 31.
The report keeps up the momentum built by Obama's re-election victory, a win premised -- at least in part -- on voters' belief that he had inherited a very difficult situation and was, slowly but surely, making things better with his policies.
Viewed broadly, the November report keeps that momentum moving in the president's direction. Imagine the alternative for a minute: The unemployment rate goes over eight percent again and job creation dips below 50,000. Republicans are suddenly emboldened to push the President for more concessions on the fiscal cliff, insisting that while he won re-election there's plenty of evidence that things just aren't getting any better.
While Republicans will insist -- and be, at least in part, right -- that the November report isn't the sort of bullish indicator on economic strength that the country wants/needs, it will be hard for them to cast it as an entirely negative view of our financial health.
What the November jobs report makes clear is that the governing dynamic of the fiscal cliff negotiations -- President Obama taking a hard line, congressional Republicans trying to find something around which to rally amid an increasingly fractious party -- won't change. And that's good news for Obama and his party.