On Obama's Mind -- and Ours -- It's Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

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The recession is over ... technically. The banks have found their footing, the Dow has hit a 14-month high, GDP is growing and unemployment is even showing signs of improving. But that's not enough to convince the 25 million Americans who are out of work, trying to find more work, or stopped looking for jobs altogether. For 17 percent of the country that is under- or un-employed, you'd have to imagine they feel the recession is alive and kicking.

So what's surprising about this new CNN poll is that it finds 84 percent of the country still considers our economy in a recession -- and many of them think it's getting worse.


For the first time in Obama's presidency, the percent of Americans who think things are going well in the country went down -- to 34 from 37 in November (but up from 20 a year ago).

This isn't surprising. Americans don't go home to GDP numbers. They're not cousins with the S&P. Their neighbors don't manage IPOs on Wall Street. At the end of the day, we color the economy based on how its impacted the people we know. And everybody knows somebody who's struggled to find a job, and hiring numbers indicate that the struggle hasn't mitigated yet. So of course these numbers weren't going to inch up forever.

The president is going to speak today about a jobs bill that uses billions of dollars originally allocated to rescue the banking system. Funds from the original $700 billion pot have since been used to modify home mortgages, offer loans to small businesses, bail out the auto industry and offer myriad tax relief. Republicans will argue that Obama's $200 billion redirection of funds is scheming because it could easily bypass Congress. Liberals will call it shrewd. But with 80 percent of the country still thinking we're in a recession, I'll just call it smart.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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