U.S. President Barack Obama applauds new U.S. citizens after they took the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members and civilians at the White House in Washington July 4, 2014.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

As job market improves, will Obama get credit?

The Labor Department reported today that U.S. job openings have risen to their highest level in nearly seven years – a figure that further inspires confidence that the job market is steadily improving. Shobhana Chandra added that the “number of unemployed job seekers per opening fell to the lowest level in six years.”
 
It’s against this backdrop that the White House’s blog ran a piece yesterday noting some of the recent highlights: the nation is on track for the best year for job creation since the ’90s; we’ve topped five straight months of 200,000 new jobs for the first time in 14 years; the economy has created 9.7 million new private-sector jobs over the last 52 months, etc.
 
It all sounds pretty impressive, and it is. The U.S. unemployment rate hasn’t been this low since the month Lehman Brothers collapsed six years ago.
 
So here’s the big-picture question: will President Obama get any credit for this? If not, why not?
 
Part of the larger dynamic is that much of the country probably won’t hear about the latest jobs data.
When is the U.S. economy not a topic worth addressing on the Sunday morning talk shows? Apparently when there’s lots of good news to discuss.
 
At least it seemed that way this past Sunday when all four of the network Sunday morning talk shows ignored last week’s surprisingly strong jobs report, which indicated nearly 300,000 new jobs were created in the month of June. […]
 
Also ignored by all the Sunday hosts and guests was the fact that the Dow Jones stock exchange on Thursday for the first time surpassed the 17,000 mark, “another in a string of records for the index that has lifted portfolios in a five-year bull market for stocks,” according to the Associated Press. Indeed, “The Dow has climbed more than 10,500 points since its Great Recession low of 6,547.05 on March 9, 2009.”
Obviously, the percentage of Americans who watch those shows is quite modest, but the fact that the Sunday shows literally ignored the economic news altogether is emblematic of the fact that the Beltway media in general doesn’t see the recent trends as politically important.
 
What’s more, the White House is understandably cautious when touting the encouraging data. From the aforementioned blog post:
There’s still much more to do to keep moving forward, but we’ve put together a few key points about how our economy is doing generally. […]
 
It’s progress – but we’ve still got work to do.
Say nothing and the public won’t know about the recent good news. Say too much and administration officials will get slammed for coming across as out of touch and declaring “Mission Accomplished” far too early. This isn’t an easy needle to thread.
 
That said, I have a hunch if we were in the second year of a Romney presidency, and the job market looked this strong, Republicans would be holding parades in his honor.
 

Barack Obama

As job market improves, will Obama get credit?