Now we have the news that October saw the creation of 171,000 net new jobs in the U.S., with the unemployment rate moving up slightly, from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent. Politically speaking, the first digit is the key in terms of the visual, in that it's under eight.
Highlights from the BLS report:
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade.
The civilian labor force rose by 578,000 to 155.6 million in October, and the labor force participation rate edged up to 63.8 percent. Total employment rose by 410,000 over the month. The employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 58.8 percent, following an increase of 0.4 percentage point in September. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 269,000 to 8.3 million in October, partially offsetting an increase of 582,000 in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +142,000 to +192,000, and the change for September was revised from +114,000 to +148,000.
There are some important things to emphasize here. Labor force participation went up. Total employment went up. The number of part-time employees dropped. These numbers show that October saw good, strong job growth. More people are returning to the labor market, and more of the jobs they are finding are full-time, rather than part-time. And, between the October job growth numbers and the revisions to August and September, we're seeing a much stronger overall job picture for the past three months, with an average of just over 170,000 net new jobs created per month. This is a very good report for the American economy, and for Barack Obama. It offers the final piece of evidence to buttress the president's winning narrative on the economy, which goes something like this:
Barack Obama and Joe Biden took office as the American economy was on the brink of depression. We were in freefall. Thanks to President Obama's policies, we had returned to positive job growth barely a year into his administration, and have created well over 5 million private sector jobs since the spring of 2010. The unemployment rate has come down more than 2 full points, and the economy, while still on the mend, is finally moving in the right direction.
Mitt Romney would return us to the same exact Republican policies that got us into the financial crash of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed. Why in the world would we do that? Barack Obama has shown that he knows how to get the American economy moving, and get Americans back to work. We need four more years of this President in order to keep moving forward.
It's not exactly "Happy Days Are Here Again," but it's a reasonable, reasoned argument that fits the reality of our economy today. Today's numbers make that argument just a bit stronger.
The media narrative has been running in Obama's direction at least since the second presidential debate, and even more so this week with his strong performance (figuratively endorsed by Republican Chris Christie and literally endorsed by independent Michael Bloomberg) on Hurricane Sandy. These strong job numbers allow that narrative to continue flowing in the President's direction. There are still four more days until the election, but every good day for Barack Obama makes it that much harder for Mitt Romney to defeat him.