Is White House bracing for a bad jobs report?
With the monthly jobs report for October — the last before the presidential election — due on Friday, there are signs that President Barack Obama’s team is lowering expectations. Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey notes an exchange between George Stephanopoulos and Austan Goolsbee, a former chief economic adviser to President Obama, that took place on Sunday (emphasis mine):
NRO’s Eliana Johnson picked up on an interesting moment during yesterday’s This Week on ABC. George Stephanopoulos asked former Obama administration economist Austan Goolsbee about the political impact of the jobs report coming up this Friday, just four days before most voters cast their ballots. Goolsbee notes that only “unbelievable outliers … crack through the shell” of the electorate’s consciousness for a single-month’s report. Goolsbee then admits that last month’s jobs report was “artificially too optimistic” — an “unbelievable outlier,” in other words.
So why admit that now? Well, that “unbelievable outlier” is likely to get corrected in this month’s household survey, and that will drive the jobless rate up. Goolsbee argues, in other words, that a jump in the jobless rate won’t impact voter psyche because voters already know the economy is improving regardless of these “unbelievable outliers”
It’s interesting that Goolsbee is laying the groundwork for some sort of correction. But when you think about it, last month’s numbers were rather rosy and there was an unexplained, seemingly arbitrary addition of 873,000 jobs. If there is a correction coming, an adjustment in the unemployment rate — even one that causes it to rise back above 8% — would make sense.
And with Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc in Washington, DC and the northeast, there has been speculation that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may not be able to deliver the jobs report on time. This immediately stirred Republicans, many of whom were hinting at some sort of a conspiracy. However, the BLS said yesterday they were working hard to get monthly unemployment numbers out for October by Friday as per usual protocol.
Job creation has been lagging as unemployment was above 8% for 43 consecutive months and the economy has been moving at a tepid pace, but Romney is still down in crucial swing states. Given this weak economic recovery, Romney should be running away with this election and shouldn’t have to rely on one more bad jobs report to win.