On the day I affectionately call “Jobs Day,” the most important news comes at 8:30 a.m. eastern, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes its latest report. The other thing to look forward to, though, are the press releases issued at 8:35 a.m., when the various political players try to tell us what we should think of the latest jobs report.
The morning’s strangest reaction comes by way of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus:
“Today’s jobs report is yet another reminder that far too many Americans are out of work, and the situation is clearly not improving.”
I don’t mean to sound picky, but the word “improving” generally means “getting better.” Under the circumstances, to argue that the nation’s jobs situation “is clearly not improving” is pretty silly.
The economy has added 734,000 jobs in the last three months, 1.2 million jobs in the last six months, and 3.4 million jobs over the last three years. The last year has been the best for job creation in the last five years, and December-January-February totals represent the best three-month span in six years. The U-6 unemployment number – suddenly the only metric Fox News cares about – has fallen to its lowest level in three years.
If the RNC wants to argue that the status quo isn’t nearly good enough, I’d strongly agree. If Priebus issued a statement saying we still have a long way to go, I’d endorse the line enthusiastically.
But to look at a jobs picture that’s clearly improving, and argue in print that it’s “clearly not improving,” gives the impression that the RNC is rooting against good news – and that’s generally not a good position for a political party to be in.
I’m not unsympathetic to the tricky situation Republicans find themselves in, but that doesn’t excuse a press release like this one.