Has Obama’s Magic Jobs Number Changed?
Earlier this year, just before the government’s January employment report came out, I wrote that creating 150,000 jobs per month seemed to be a rough breakeven number for President Obama. If payroll growth came in above that number, he looked to be a favorite for re-election and an underdog otherwise.
The January employment report turned out to be a very good one, initially reporting that 243,000 jobs were created that month. (The figure has since been revised up further, to 275,000 jobs.) The February jobs number — originally 227,000 and now 259,000 jobs after revisions — was likewise quite strong.
But figures in the last two months have been more sluggish. The March jobs report initially showed that 121,000 jobs were created — although like other recent reports, it has been revised upward, and now shows a gain of 154,000 jobs. And the April jobs report, which was released on Friday, showed a gain of only 115,000 jobs.
If you look at the four months as a whole, Mr. Obama is still somewhat ahead of pace. An average of about 200,000 payroll jobs were created in the first four months of the year. What that means is that the May through October jobs reports would only need to show about 120,000 jobs being created per month for Mr. Obama to reach the 150,000-job “magic number” throughout the election year.
But let’s make this analysis more forward-looking. The jobs numbers for the past five months or so, taken as a whole, have been fairly decent, especially relative to where the figures had been throughout most of the last three years. The concern economists have, however, is that the March and April figures were less solid than those in December, January and February, which could presage another summer slump in job growth, as occurred in both 2010 and 2011.
My original analysis was based on part, however, on what Mr. Obama’s approval rating had been prior to the January jobs report being released. Presumably, if that ahead-of-the-pace jobs creation in January and February has helped him, it would already be reflected in his approval numbers
You can read the rest of this article at:: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/has-obamas-magic-jobs-number-changed/
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