Today, the White House spin on job numbers is clear enough: right direction, new jobs being created every day, and hey, here's Obama in front of jobs-y backgrounds at a photo-op in Maryland. (Consistent with the rise in average weekly hours, the number of full-time workers rose for the fourth month in a row and the number of people working part-time for economic reasons declined sharply. The fact that the unemployment rate fell and private employment rose are obviously encouraging signs that recovery continues," writes Christina Romer on the White House blog.)
But it's quite possible that without all those Census jobs, collectively a mini stimulus program, that the numbers might well go in a different direction once people answer their doors and fill out the damn Census forms.
One would assume that the administration's economic team would get a heads-up from bureaucrats about the "real" number, but, alas, it seems that they do not, which is why there's a gap today between expectations -- fed by the administration -- and reality, about private sector job growth. To be sure, the administration projected that most of the May job would be Census hires ... but just not 95% of them.
Another difficult bit of news for the White House: the job losses are weakness are evident in almost every sector of the economy, and job growth is barely keeping even with the relative size of the labor pool.
As the folks at the labor-funded EPI put it:
To put it in perspective, consider the following: in the boom of the late 1990s, the fastest year of employment growth was 2.6%, in 1998. If, in the event we have that extremely strong level of growth from here on out, we would still not get down to pre-recession unemployment rates until January 2015. The hole in the labor market is staggering, unemployment remains near 10% and long-term unemployment continues to reak records. In May, nearly half -- 46% -- of all unemployed workers had been unemployed for over six months.