Every month politicians and pundits eagerly await the release of the latest government employment report like 'tweens awaiting the latest Bieber album. But is it worth the wait?
The 2012 presidential election is going to be decided on the economy, not unemployment. The reason? Because the unemployment rate, at 8%, means that most Americans are gainfully employed. And we're not going to discuss the "underemployeds," those folks who look a clearly recovering economy and jobs market in the face and say "I'm outta here." Why anyone would think that now, amidst a healthy economic rebound, is the time to quit looking for work is a mystery.
There's a reason why the latest polls show that Americans (1) believe the country is headed in the right direction; (2) are feeling positive about the economy; and (3) are more confident with President Obama's financial stewardship than Mitt Romney's. It's because the economy, when not judged through the singular and misleading lens of the jobs market, is actually doing pretty well.
Anyone who has investments--in stocks, mutual funds, retirement or a college savings account for example--has seen a meteoric 100% rise since Obama took office. For homeowners, there's been a stabilization of the housing market and a steady increase in value. Those looking to buy their first home are treated to low prices, historically low interest rates and plentiful credit. Consumers are more confident than ever, evidenced by strong retail and auto sales and record corporate profits. The hotel industry is booming, manufacturing is expanding and even the music industry is seeing strong sales. Overall GDP growth, at around 3% annually, is a far cry from the 6% contraction four years ago. Ok, let's talk employment finally. There's been 30 consecutive months of private sector growth with over 4.5 million jobs created.
I know, you're saying "Get to the bad part." To be sure, the economy has a long way to go before we see the glory days again. But there's no escaping the simple truth that Americans are feeling good again about the present and the future. They view their personal providence through the prism of their wallets. Right now that wallet seems secure and getting fatter. And that's very bad news for Romney.