The New, Weak Jobs Report

My colleague Matthew Yglesias explains just how lame it is, in a series of posts that starts here. The short version: 96,000 new jobs, and an unemployment rate falling to 8.1 percent. In pure, cold, horse race terms, this is the sort of number that gives the campaign maximal uncertainty. In Obama’s Last Stand, Glenn Thrush writes that the Obama team’s “worst case scenario” was “a 9 to 10 percent unemployment rate,” but “they hoped against hope Obama could run a more positive camapign rooted in a rebound, a la Reagan 1984.” The most optimistic projection for unemployment by now – the one in Christie Romer’s projection for various economic scenarios with and without stimulus – was 5 percent. So 8.1 percent is in the “sweet spot,” if you’re not doing harm to the cliche by calling it that.