Every passing week, the economic news becomes more positive for the nation. It is great news for President Barack Obama in his quest to win reelection. The only ones disappointed by the news are the five remaining Republican candidates.
Because they have staked their Presidential ambitions on one thing and one thing only: a bad economy. It is in the interest of these candidates for the economy to be weak.
But the morning the Labor Department released the “weekly jobless claims number” and it is extremely positive with 352,000 Americans filing for unemployment benefits, a sharp drop of 50,000 applicants.
Jobless claims plunged by 50,000 to 352,000 in the week ended Jan. 14, the lowest level since April 2008, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 41 economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected 384,000. A Labor Department spokesman said the decrease reflected the usual volatility seen during this time of year.
Companies are slowing the pace of firings and beginning to step up the pace of hiring even as a slump in Europe spurred by a default crisis may limit U.S. growth. The improvement may be a sign that companies are looking to expand their workforces as sales climb.
“Claims are always choppy around the start of a new year but there are simply very few industries left that still need to do any further labor cuts,” Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit, said before the report. “Workers are slowly being added as demand has started to pick up a bit.”
Consumer demand is picking up, consumer confidence is rising, and each passing month more jobs are being created. The 200,000 new jobs were created as the employment rate dropped sharply to 8.5%.
The Labor Department announced on Friday that the unemployment rate dropped another two tenths of one percent to 8.5%. The rate marks a three-year low in the closely watched rate.
The drop in the unemployment rate in December to 8.5 percent, a three-year low, showed the job market gaining momentum heading into a presidential election campaign that will be shaped by the state of the economy.
The Labor Department figures cap four months of declines in the unemployment rate and six consecutive months of jobs gains of 100,000 or more. Employers expanded payrolls by 200,000 in December, exceeding a median estimate of 155,000 in a Bloomberg News survey. For all of 2011, 1.64 million positions were created, the most since 2006, after a 940,000 increase in 2010.
“This can make a difference for Obama if it persists into the spring,” said Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll in Princeton, New Jersey. “It’s the sense of direction in the economy that matters more than the numbers.”
The economy has been heading in the right direction for the past 23 months. President Obama walked into the Presidency with the economy bleeding jobs at the rate of 750,000 per month. The weekly jobless claims rate was also very high (in early 2009) at over 600,000 new jobless claims being filed per week. Today that rate is well under 400,000, a figure considered to be bullish.
Not only did President Obama and the 144th Congress stop the bleeding, they brought the economy back to health. With an effective stimulus program and smart use of TARP funds, the Obama Administration breathed new life into the economy. Not only is the jobs picture rosier, but the automobile industry is on an upward trend. Consumer confidence is hitting new high and retail sales are also showing signs of life.
Looks like the Republican candidates will have to find a new issue to use besides jobs. They will look silly if they stay on that path.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon.