Below 8 percent
The big news of the day is the jobs report and from a purely political perspective it is very positive development for President Obama’s campaign. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 percent in September, and total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 114,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in health care and in transportation and warehousing but changed little in most other major industries.
Household Survey Data
The unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 7.8 percent in September. For the first 8 months of the year, the rate held within a narrow range of 8.1 and 8.3 percent. The number of unemployed persons, at 12.1 million, decreased by 456,000 in September. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.3 percent), adult women (7.0 percent), and whites (7.0 percent) declined over the month. The unemployment rates for teenagers (23.7 percent), blacks (13.4 percent), and Hispanics (9.9 percent) were little changed. The jobless rate for Asians, at 4.8 percent (not seasonally adjusted), fell over the year.
The official unemployment rate dropped primarily because the job growth in the previous months have been revised upward, not because of negative factors such as a large number of people giving up on finding work.
The economy remains the top issue with voters, and perceptions about Obama’s handling of economy is a very important factor in this election. This jobs report shows that there is real growth, albeit anemic growth, under Obama.
The other reason this is good news for Obama is that the headline number has crossed an important psychological barrier. The official unemployment number is now below 8 percent for the first time since Obama took office. While the actual difference between 7.8 percent and 8 percent is small, there is real PR value in the Obama team being able to say unemployment is below 8 percent.
I can assume the Romney campaign and conservative groups are unhappy this morning that they can no longer legitimately use the line “unemployment still above 8 percent” in their ads.