Monday, July 5, 2010

Jobs numbers are impossible to spin

Even the progressives are seeing the writing on the wall - from Open Left:

Another weak jobs report:

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 125,000 in June, and the unemployment rate edged down to 9.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The decline in payroll employment reflected a decrease (-225,000) in the number of temporary employees working on Census 2010. Private-sector payroll employment edged up by 83,000(...)
In June, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was unchanged at 6.8 million. These individuals made up 45.5 percent of unemployed persons.

With the decline in the U3 unemployment rate, it might be tempting for Democratic partisans to try and spin the numbers as showing signs of improvement. However, economic spin is largely ineffective. People don't need press releases and communications staff in order to figure out whether they are in good financial shape or not.

Additionally, blame for the lack of improvement to a poor economic situation can't really be spun. If times are tough, and not getting better, the governing party just gets blamed, period. Perhaps a political scientists can correct me, but I believe outside of a major war there are no examples to counter this. Even during the Great Depression, Democrats won huge in 1934 because the country was growing like an Asian Tiger economy, with an eye-popping 10.9% GDP growth that year. Times were getting better, so the governing party won.

We can, and should, make the twin arguments that time would be even worse if Republicans were in charge, and that it would have been better if progressive were in charge. However, I have real doubts about either of those being makeable cases. People just blame the governing party, and they also blame the ideology with which the governing party is, rightly or wrongly, most closely associated with. In this case, that means blaming liberalism, even if 60% of thee country wants more government spending to create jobs (no one ever said most Americans had thoroughgoing ideological critiques).

Objective economic conditions are beyond the reach of any type of messaging What Democrats needed to do was enact policy that would improve people's personal economic situations before the November elections. Either that hasn't happened, or it won't happen in time. Further, with the defeat of the second stimulus, nothing can really change it now. The end result is going to be a very good election for Republicans.

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