Obama Still Searching For Significantly Lower Jobless Rate

May 6, 2011
Originally published on May 6, 2011 12:29 pm

If President Obama could send Navy SEAL commandos into action to find, say, a six percent jobless rate the way they cornered Osama bin Laden, Democrats might feel a lot more confidence about the 2012 election landscape than they do.

But, alas, even Navy SEALs have limits.

The Labor Department reported Friday what should have been the unabashed good news that the economy had an unexpectedly large net gain of 244,000 jobs in April.

But it wasn't a case of unalloyed joy for Democrats since the jobless rate rose to 9 percent in April from 8.8 percent in March. That could be because more people went back into the job market looking for jobs in April as the weather improved and employers hired more.

Economists can explain all they want that the payroll numbers and jobless rate are derived from two different surveys that sometimes diverge.

But Democrats can expect that Republicans will work to keep them on the defensive so long as the jobless rate remains significantly above the 8 percent level.

That's what White House economists forecast back in 2009 would likely be the top level with the passage of the economic stimulus of the same year.

Worth noting is how static the statements from the White House and House Republicans have been in the last few months with each new employment report.

Since the start of the year, Austan Goolsbee, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has pointed to the payroll tax cut and other tax reductions meant to stimulate hiring for the job growth. And he did so again.

Seeking to keep expectations low, he has also warned that the jobs numbers numbers are volatile month to month so we shouldn't read too much into them.

The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there will surely be bumps in the road ahead. The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.

And Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) continued to blame Democratic Party policies for any weakness in the jobs data that remains, though it appeared he shifted subtly from accusing Democrats of having "job-killing" policies to saying they were creating "uncertainty."

While any improvement is welcome news, job growth in America is still nowhere close to what it should be. Our economy continues to suffer from the uncertainty being caused for private-sector job creators by the Democrats who run Washington. Over the past month, rather than joining Republicans in focusing on policies that promote long-term economic growth to help balance the federal budget, the Democrats who control Washington have indicated they are planning to increase taxes and allow the government's spending binge to continue. The policies proposed by the White House and Senate Democrats are causing renewed uncertainty for private-sector job creators, crowding out private investment and punishing small businesses and entrepreneurs who are willing to invest, expand, and take risks to create more American jobs.

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