So, here we are, smack dab in the middle of Iowa and New Hampshire, and the Republican candidates are taking all of the attention. And from time to time, we’re reminded that there’s an actual President in place, governing all the while. During those events the oxygen seems to be sucked out of the room, actual news transpires, and today is a case in point: in December, the economy added 200,000 jobs, well above economists’ expectations, lowering the unemployment rate (8.5%) to the lowest it’s been since February 2009, just days after the President was inaugurated.
This is the fourth such increase in month over month hiring, and the gains were evenly distributed across the economy, suggesting that a broader based and slightly faster recovery is gathering force as we head smack dab in the middle of another presidential election. When we were heading into the Congressional midterms in the fall of 2010, I kept saying, and I still hold, that any time that the unemployment rate is over 8% in this day and age, whoever the incumbent party is absolutely screwed. And that held to be true. Democrats incurred staggering losses on a scale we haven’t seen since the early 1990s.
If the unemployment rate continues to fall, which it looks to be doing, for a prolonged and sustained period of time in the run-up to the election, this would essentially skewer the central arguments Republicans have been able to muster against President Obama, that he’s managed the economy horribly. I don’t put much stock in this argument, as politicians, be they Democrats and Republicans both get the blame when it goes horribly, and bask in the praise when there’s a boom. While there’s some policies they can pursue to maximize employment, there’s really not a Magical White House Jobs Wand sitting around that they fail to wave about, thus creating millions of sorely needed jobs.
So, while this is good for the Democrats, more importantly, it’s good for the country. More people in jobs is the happiest outcome, regardless of politics.