October job numbers provide little reason for White House optimism

Vishal Ganesan | Contributor

With October job numbers falling far below what economists had expected, it has become likely that President Obama could enter the general election next year with the country facing the highest unemployment levels of the post-war era, according to The Associated Press.

The economy added 80,000 jobs last month, bringing the official unemployment figure down from 9.1 percent to 9 percent. For its part, the White House is trying its utmost to put a positive spin on the numbers.

In a blog post on the White House’s website, Alan Krueger, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, cited the report as “further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

His optimism is guarded, however. Krueger goes on to note that “the pace of improvement is not fast enough” and, predictably, laments congressional inaction on the President’s jobs plan.

Other analysts, however, have struggled to see any silver lining at all.

Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich weighed in during a recent TV interview, pointing to meager monthly job-creation numbers and declaring that the “80,000 figure looks pretty good if you don’t put it in context.”

According to Reich, “we need 125,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with population growth.”

His argument was echoed by The New York Times, whose Catherine Rampell called the 80,000 figure “barely worth celebrating” on Friday.

The number, though by no means definitive, falls significantly below the 95,000–125,000 range economists had predicted. And although the president has made it abundantly clear that he intends to blame congressional Republicans for their unwillingness to pass his jobs plan, history suggests that the battle may have already been lost.

As The Hill noted Friday, “no president since Franklin Roosevelt has won reelection with an unemployment rate of 8 percent or higher.”

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