The U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in December, beating expectations. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5%. If the economy really starts roaring back to life in the first half of 2012, the election will be pretty much over. Just like in 1996.
“The employment report built on a flurry of heartening economic news in December, when consumer confidence rose, manufacturing came in strong and small businesses showed signs of life. It was the sixth straight month that the economy has added more than 100,000 jobs — not enough to restore employment to pre-recession levels, but enough, perhaps, to cheer President Obama as he enters an election year.”
Overall, the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in December, but as has been the case for a long while, it’s the private sector that continues to fare better. Last month, businesses added 212,000 jobs, making it one of the best months since the recession began.
For the 2011 calendar year, BLS data shows the U.S. private sector has now added 1.89 million jobs in 2011, well ahead of last year’s private-sector total of 1.2 million, and the best year for businesses since 2005. Since March 2010, American businesses have created 3.13 million jobs. (In 2008, the private sector lost 3.8 million jobs, and in 2009, the private sector lost 5 million jobs.)
Ryan Avent imagines the president’s record going forward:
A lot can happen over the next year, but for the moment the current recovery looks likely to continue. On Friday, the Bureau of Labour Statistics will report the latest employment data, for the month of December. The consensus forecast is for a gain of 170,000 private-sector jobs and a loss of 20,000 public-sector jobs, for a net gain of 150,000. (In the year to November, the economy added an average of 133,000 net jobs and 157,000 private-sector jobs per month, so this would represent a slight acceleration.) If we extrapolate those changes out through the election, then Mr Obama’s opponent will only be able to claim net job losses during the Obama presidency of just 55,000. What’s more, the net figure will entail government job losses of 833,000 combined with net private-sector job creation of 788,000. Given steady improvement in state and local finances, continued loss of 20,000 government jobs per month seems too high, so there is a decent chance that the Republican nominee will be unable to claim any net job loss during the Obama presidency at the time voters go to the polls.