In light of the new jobs numbers, we’re likely to hear three political arguments today. Some will point to the 171,000 jobs created in October and the strongest private-sector job growth since February. Others will point to the slight increase in the unemployment rate. And a third group will say there’s an elaborate conspiracy, involving President Obama, the BLS, the media, the Freemasons, Bigfoot, and quite possibly, the Illuminati.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) trumpeted the second argument, insisting the news is discouraging – if the unemployment rate goes up, the talking point goes, it’s necessarily bad. And as a technical matter, it’s accurate to say the unemployment rate went from 7.8% to 7.9%.
But the talking point is based on either ignorance or a desire to mislead. The unemployment rate went up slightly because of good news – more Americans got back in the game, re-entering the labor market as the job landscape improves. For Republicans to characterize this as discouraging is ridiculous.
By objective matters, today’s report is a fairly strong one. Job growth improved, revisions for the two previous months were up significantly, the labor force grew, and the overall jobless rate is obviously steadily declining. What’s more, as Rachel noted on the show last night, this comes against a backdrop of other encouraging economic news.
I suspect Romney/Ryan and its allies will spend the day shouting, “The unemployment rate went up 0.1%!” but this will be almost as silly as the conspiracy theorists’ nonsense.