Obama Has Little to Cheer in Good Not Great Jobs Report

The economy is still not adding enough jobs to quickly lower unemployment

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Democrats braced for a miserable jobs report Friday--forecasters predicted just 75,000 would have been added--but the tally turned out to be not so bad. The economy added 117,000 jobs--154,000 in the private sector minus 37,000 lost in the public sector--during July. It was not a repeat of last month's disastrous report, which found that just 18,000 jobs had been created in June. Still, the news isn't great--at least, not for President Obama. As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza explain, "Even if 100,000 jobs are created, it will be less than half the number of jobs--255,000, according to Republican economic consultant Matt McDonald--that need to be created every month for the unemployment rate to dip below 8 percent by Election Day 2012." The higher the unemployment rate, they argue, the harder it is for Obama to get elected.

Former Bush adviser Matt McDonald dubs this the "The Economy That Cried Recovery," because "We are continually revising down estimates of growth, revising up estimates of joblessness, and all the while robust growth always seems to be forecast for 'next quarter.'"

ABC News' Jake Tapper hammered White House press secretary Jay Carney on Obama's inability to grow jobs Thursday, asking "But what is the President doing?  ... He went to fundraisers last night.  What is he doing today? ...He stood up there and hectored Congress about all the stuff that needs to be done to help create jobs, and this needs to take place.... and then he flew off to Chicago.  What’s he doing today? ... the same stuff he was doing a couple of months ago, calling on Congress to pass things?"

But The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports that Democrats think there's not much they can do to stimulate job growth "given Republican control of the House and their staunch unwillingness to spend federal dollars on economic stimulus and infrastructure initiatives." All they can do, Bolton reports, is try to draw a contrast between their proposals for job creation and Republicans'. That echoes the expectations of The New York Times' Floyd Norris, who writes that a double-dip recession could be coming. "In any other cycle, the recent spate of poor economic news would have resulted in politicians vying with one another to propose programs to revive growth.... The focus in Washington is now on deciding where to reduce spending, not increase it." Norris continues:

Government stimulus programs historically have often appeared to be accomplishing little until the cumulative effect suddenly helps to power a self-sustaining recovery. This time, the best hope may be that the stimulus we have already had will prove to have been enough.

NBC News' First Read isn't sure whether the jobs report is a silver lining or the beginning of a better economy, but what's clear is that "Yesterday's Dow sell-off had to do with factors MUCH bigger than the just-completed debt deal. What’s occurring across global financial markets isn’t just about Washington.... But the debt debate--which focused on austerity rather than boosting the economy, and which highlighted the country's political dysfunction--probably didn't help things."

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