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View Diary: Job growth clocks in at disappointing 120,000, far below forecasts. Unemployment rate falls to 8.2% (167 comments)

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  •  Heard on NPR this morning (17+ / 0-)

    That Ben Bernanke was pondering why job growth looked so good the past few months, when the underlying rate of GDP growth didn't look adequate to explain it.  He seems to think it represented a correction of excessive layoffs from the panic in 2008, when employers let go more workers than in retrospect they needed to.  The explanation provided is that they are making up some of those job losses to get back to where current economic activity would have normal employment.

    There was also some speculation that normal seasonal adjustments in unemployment data may have overestimated job growth.  A warmer-than-average winter might have caused less construction job falloff than normal, which the seasonal adjustment might have missed.  Now, spring adjustments might just be correcting that systematic error.

    Not sure which might be correct.  Whatever the reason, we need more job growth.  The president had better be campaigning for some sort of stimulus this spring and summer.  He won't get it, but shifting the blame for job stagnation to the Republicans is at least some consolation prize.

    When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

    by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:24:42 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's more likely seasonal adjustments IMO (8+ / 0-)

      Seriously, here in Chicago our February was like late April, and our March was like June.  

      The trees are already green and it usually never gets green before May.  

      The seasonal adjustments are simply no longer seasonally appropriate.

    •  warmer than average winter (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, jrooth, TomP

      so now, climate change impacts data collection in an otherwise completely unrelated arena...

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:32:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He won't get it. Just as he might not... (21+ / 0-)

      ...have gotten a larger stimulus 37 months ago. But as many of us have been saying for those 37 months, better to try and not get it than not to try. People forgive a hard-fought loss; they aren't happy about yielding without a fight.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:33:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If he wants to be on the right side of the issue (6+ / 0-)

        He's going to have to do something to at least look like he's fighting for jobs.  An occasional economic-populist sounding speech is nothing but hot air when you run the executive branch.  And the excuse of powerlessness in the face of Republican intransigence in Congress will not go down well when you have a plutocrat on the other side claiming to know how to make the trains run on time, as it were.

        If employment news turns less rosy, it'll be put up or shut up time for the president.  Now that his mind seems focused on campaigning, we might even see something concrete come out of the White House.

        When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

        by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:36:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not sure why they're not sending over (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dallasdoc, Pescadero Bill

          stimulus legislation of some sort on a monthly basis.  They threaten to do it, but no follow-thru.

        •  If we get another month like this... (11+ / 0-)

          ...one, it's going to (unfairly) give the Republicans campaign fodder. That's not the chief reason those of us who have argued for more stimulus (both short-term and long-term) did so — the point has been that vast numbers of Americans are suffering. But it's also been obvious that a solid recovery would pay dividends at the polls. If Christina Romer had been listened to in January 2009 instead of having her views submerged by Larry Summers, we might be in better shape now.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:55:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're preaching to the choir here (10+ / 0-)

            ... but I don't blame Larry Summers.  Obama decided who to listen to and who to discount:  ask Paul Volcker or Christina Romer.  If you hire Summers, you ought to know what you're going to get; same with Tim Geithner.  The buck stops in the Oval Office for those decisions, which haven't been significantly unwound to this day.

            I too wish a bigger stimulus had been pushed through, or at least a second one.  The president could be making a much bigger deal of the transportation bill the House can't get it together to pass, for that matter.  Or it'd be nice to see bills pushing the Buffett rule dedicate the income to increased jobs programs.  There's a lot of relatively micro stuff the president could do to make some difference, but pushing a more broadly stimulative fiscal policy is the big fish he seems determined not to cast for.  Deficit peacocks have already won that fight.

            When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

            by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:00:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I really don't agree (5+ / 0-)

        the only thing that matters is performance.

        Excuses, the blame game, will not save a president in a sinking economy.

        They missed how bad it was going to get.  Had Summers not screwed up, they might have gotten more by accurately predicting when U3 would be in November of '10.  But that would have been a long shot.

        We are running a deficit to gdp ratio, the true measure of fiscal stimulus, larger than in any year that FDR was President until 1942.

        This is one month, and the trend is still good.  Consumer Sentiment has been improving, so hopefully this isn't a trend.

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:55:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and no, imo. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        askew, ZedMont

        Certainly amongst partisan activists with a very distinct ideological point of view, fighting the good fight is something we always want to see more of.

        On the other hand, too many hard-fought losses will cause anyone to be perceived as a loser, albeit a hard-fighting one.

        "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

        by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:59:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Will fighting for voters make one a loser (4+ / 0-)

          ... or will not fighting for them be more likely to achieve that end?  Seems like the non-ideological partisans are always ready to break out the ticker tape and bunting whenever the president makes a vaguely populist sounding speech, so I think they know what good policy and good politics are.  They forget that actually following through with actions would make even better politics, and might even achieve some better policy.

          When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

          by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:03:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think the issue is diminishing returns. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc, auapplemac, Odysseus, cpresley

            If he's populist and confrontational 24/7, then populism becomes the baseline and won't move the needle on any particular issue--it just becomes noise.

            Also, unfortunate reality is that the squishy middle--the sad sacks who etch-a-sketch every election cycle--determine the outcome of Presidential races.  And they typically prefer smaller and less frequents servings of red meat.

            I think the bigger problem is his willingness to cut a deal and give something affirmative away.   I could understand the "it won't pass so don't waste capital on it" mentality.

            But, his handling of the debt ceiling was a complete debacle.  Offering to make the concessions he did was wrong on just about every level it could have been wrong on.

            "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

            by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:10:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If only it were diminishing returns (5+ / 0-)

              With this president nobody's gotten tired of populist efforts.  It's more diminishing expectations of actual effort that could prove the issue for him.  

              Given the strong popularity of various populist economic policies, I wouldn't be afraid of the middle abandoning a populist campaign.  I suspect such a campaign might invigorate the middle, since most of the "middle" folks I talk to are cynical about the good intentions of any politicians.  It's hard to argue against that attitude, frankly.  Showing more good intentions would, I think, likely bring a lot more people to the president.  Folks inclined to listen to Republican arguments will usually wind up voting for them anyway.

              When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

              by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:19:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've met some of these people (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                auapplemac, ZedMont, cpresley, sunny skies

                in the middle.  Maddening.  The types of people who recognize how nasty and uncooperative the Republicans have been, how they've been dealing in bad faith, and at the same time blame Obama for not doing enough to work with them.

                I have difficulty placing myself in the shoes of someone who needs their support, since I can't bring myself to respect their opinion.

                Congress has a 12% approval rating, but voters are still on track to keep the Republicans in power.

                Idiots.

                "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

                by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:26:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Most of them don't see that much difference (6+ / 0-)

                  ... between the parties.  From an average lunchpail Joe or Jill's point of view, they have a point.  Both parties pursue broadly neoliberal, free-trade economic policies, and increasingly both worship at the altar of supposedly-stimulative tax cuts.  Both set the banquet table for the plutocrats.  The fact that we jump up and down pointing out that Democrats will let a few crumbs fall off that table for the rest of us while Republicans don't is not persuasive to a lot of these people.  It's hard to blame them for not buying that argument.

                  The thing that would change their minds is a more committed economic populist party.  When Democrats pushed through the New Deal, they bought four decades of loyalty from working class voters.  Those voters don't see a party on their side in the Democrats anymore, and that's fundamentally the Democrats' fault.  It's not the voters fault for not buying what they're selling; it's the party leaders' fault for not offering a product voters want to buy.

                  When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

                  by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:33:16 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The Democratic party's (5+ / 0-)

                    brand as the party for "the little guy" has gone by the wayside, to its detriment.

                    Fundamentally, though, the biggest problem is that this country is dangerously unenlightened.

                    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

                    by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:41:19 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Twas ever thus (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Geekesque, auapplemac, cpresley, wsexson

                      Politicians have to be able to sell to the gullible, the stupid and the disengaged.  Otherwise they won't succeed.  It'd be nice if we had an engaged Athenian polity, but we never have and never will.  It's the world our politicians live in, and they still have to learn to sell their product.  Republicans are excellent salesmen with a seriously lousy product.  Why can't our side develop a better product to sell than the one we have?  That's the fundamental problem I see.

                      When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

                      by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:45:21 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  A lot of it is still race-based, I fear. (4+ / 0-)

                        A lot of lower middle class white people still fret more about a dime of their money going to some undeserving dark-skinned person than having their entire well-being diminished in order to serve the wealthy.

                        Any time Obama's race becomes an issue in any way, his numbers go south.  White people couldn't even tolerate him criticizing the arrest of a black man for trying to get into his own damn house.

                        "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

                        by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:55:31 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Bill Maher quoted a cracker in Louisiana (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Geekesque, Meteor Blades

                          ... on a recent show, remembering an encounter he'd had there years ago.  When asked why he voted for Republicans when they were only working for the rich folks, Maher remembered his response:

                          "Republicans work for the rich folks; Democrats work for the n***s.  Who works for me?"

                          That's a racist's cri du coeur.  The answer is for Democrats to work for him as well as other poor folks, and show him they mean it.  Self-interest can be stronger than racism, if it's successfully appealed to.

                          When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

                          by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 08:02:51 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I wish I had your optimism that (0+ / 0-)

                            such people are open to being convinced.

                            In his view, if you're helping black people, you're hurting him.  

                            Demographics can solve that problem, but a lot of damage to be done in the mean time.

                            "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

                            by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 08:10:28 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  These people need an enemy to hate (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Geekesque, mimi

                            In the absence of a better one, they'll fall back on traditional cultural racism.  But who better to offer them than Wall Street banksters?  Economic populism can be powerfully driven by class resentment, and it would be smart politics for Democrats to engender some.  If Republicans want to whine about "class warfare," let's give them something to whine about.

                            When Free Speech is outlawed, only outlaws will have Free Speech.

                            by Dallasdoc on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 09:37:57 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  White identity--if they're down and depressed (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dallasdoc

                            "hey, at least we're white."

                            Part of the problem is that everyone expects to get rich.

                            "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

                            by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 10:47:49 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

        •  I agree about "too many" hard-fought... (9+ / 0-)

          ...losses. But we're talking about a key one in this case.

          At the time three years ago when those of us (in the minority) seeking larger stimulus were excoriated for having no political savvy about how things work in Washington, we were told that if a second stimulus were to be needed, that could happen later. A handful of us pointed out that Obama would only get one bite of that apple as his political capital waned (as happens to all presidents as their term of office ages).

          It doesn't really matter now. There will be no additional stimulus (short of what the Fed may do) until after November 2012. By then we'll see if this month's jobs report is just a fluke or the start of a new trend. If it IS a new trend, then an election that ought to be won by Obama given the incredibly lame opponent he will face will be, at best, up for grabs.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:16:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'll agree with that, and add that making (6+ / 0-)

            the case for a much bigger stimulus earlier would have been the best possible way to help a second stimulus pass later. "See, I told you we needed to do more!"

            I think part of it was that they just failed to comprehend how much damage had been done.  Economists tend to look at comparables, which puts blinders on them when we're in uncharted territory.

            "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

            by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:21:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  True about economists. But the fact was... (6+ / 0-)

              ..that the administration economist who knew the most about deep downturns, Christina Romer, DID argue for more stimulus, $1.8 trillion. That approach never got to the president; what did was less than half that. Now, it's almost a certainty they would never have gotten that much and probably shouldn't have tried for it. But if they had shot for $1.3 trillion, they might have gotten, say, $1.1 T or $1.0 T. An improvement.

              But the real need, shoring up demand, could have been produced with a modernized WPA and CCC program of direct hiring. I've heard all the arguments against these. I don't buy them. Hardly matters. Nothing like this was proposed, not even by Romer.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 09:49:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Biggest problem of course was state (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cpresley, Dallasdoc

                level, where Republican governors and "balanced budget" provisions in state constitutions produced an undercurrent of austerity.

                It will be interesting to see what the President considers his biggest mistakes when he writes his memoirs.

                "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

                by Geekesque on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 10:46:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Let's all hope....n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP

            “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

            by LamontCranston on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 07:22:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  This fight should have been on well over a yr ago (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenSooner, cpresley, Dallasdoc

        Again, in the end, this election is about this ECONOMY.  The other stuff is part of it, but in the end, the ECONOMY.

      •  Hasn't the word "stimulus" become a poisonous (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZedMont

        word in the pubic's mind? Stimulus = Bailout?

        It's also can be painted as an admission of failure by the pundits and Republicans.

        Hoping the number is just a blip.

        Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

        by auapplemac on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 08:18:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Where (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Supavash

      has Ben been? Oh, in his Stone Tower the Federal Reserve.

      Companies have be laying off at least 2 rounds a years since 2008. Any replacements are either temp or lower payed.

      Ben, the rich will be eaten.

    •  Bernanke tought high job growths were anomaly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc

      Heard that too.  I took away that Bernanke thought the 200K job growth numbers were an anomaly based on the slow GDP growth and the current numbers and the disturbing trend of declining job growth numbers posted by Meteor Blades would seem to confirm that.

      But all we hear is the "race to the bottom" crap about Social Security and Medicare might cause a deficit in 20 years and how we have to cut both programs that are not responsible for any of current deficits or debt.

      Sure wish we had a Democratic president.

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