The big story last night was President Obama’s speech but it is already starting to be overshadowed by the big story this morning, a very disappointing jobs report. This election is still primarily about the state of the economy and the data is not good.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics nonfarm payroll rose by only 96,000 in August. This is lower than expected and well below the average monthly job growth in the past two years.
Democrats have been trying to sell Obama’s tenure on the economy by saying things are improving steadily but it just takes time to get out of the deep hole we are in. This jobs report though is more in line with an economy that has stalled rather than one that is growing. This level of job growth just barely keeps up with the population growth.
The one small political silver lining for Obama is that the official unemployment number dropped from 8.3 to 8.1 percent, but the reason it dropped is primarily because people are giving up on trying to find work. While having smaller headline numbers is better, even that will probably not provide much of a rhetorical benefit for Obama. Unemployment is still technically “above eight percent” and that is how Republicans will probably continue to refer to it.
Since they happened so close together it would be impossible to see in the polling data if this jobs report actually hurts Obama’s (potential) convention bounce, but I doubt anyone will dispute that it couldn’t have helped.