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Hiring stumbles, Romney opts for non-credibility

The April jobs numbers are bad.  Yes, the White House and the Obama campaign would like you to know that it was the 26th straight month of job growth, but the net gain of 115,000 (non-farm) jobs, was well below expectations. Yes the unemployment rate declined from 8.2 to 8.1, but the know-alls say this reflects people leaving the workforce (which makes me wonder once again why we can’t have a measure that takes that into account).

Of course, for Team Romney, bad economic news is good political news. Can’t blame Team R for that or for tut-tutting that this tick of the clock reflects badly on the Team Obama’s claims that what they are doing for the economy is working.

But Romney went a little nutso in setting the standard for what would constitute good economic news. Speaking on Fox News this morning as the numbers came out, he said:

“We should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created-per-month. This is way, way, way off from what should happen in a normal recovery.”

Problem #1: There have been four months in the last 50 years (that’s 600 months) in which the economy added 500,000 or more jobs. Does Romney, who is running as the candidate who knows how the economy works, know this? Does he care?

Oh, and one of those four months of greater-than 500,000 jobs added was May of 2010, when guess-who was president.

MSNBC quotes Romney in Pittsburgh this afternoon, reacting to the news that the unemployment had declined from 8.2 to 8.1 percent:

“Normally, that would be cause for celebration, but anything near 8 percent or over 4 percent is not cause for celebration.”

Problem #2: According to this graphic maintained by the Wall Street Journal, the last time the monthly unemployment rate was under 4 percent was in 2000, the last year of the Clinton boom. If Romney’s standard is correct, there were zero months during the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency when the unemployment rate was cause for celebration. In fact, according to the same data, other than four months in 2000, the U.S. unemployment has been no cause for celebration since January of 1970, which according to my own estimates covers the last 42 years of booms and busts including all of the Reagan years.

I’m guessing that Romney actually does know better, but that he needs to set an impossible standard so that nothing that happens between now and November could possibly qualify as good news.

On the other, and sadder hand, in a political culture where factual accuracy and credibility mattered, someone in Romney’s shoes would be reluctant to make statements so disconnected from reality. Sigh.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 05/04/2012 - 02:54 pm.

    “Disconnected from reality”?


    Have you listened to a recent Obama – taxpayer paid college tour speech recently?

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/04/2012 - 03:42 pm.

    For those who care about reality, here is a chart of the monthly job growth for the past few decades:

    While 500K would be great, it would be extraordinarily unusual.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/04/2012 - 06:22 pm.


    What Mitt Romney knows about getting an economy going again wouldn’t fill a thimble. He ran a rapacious “financial” firm that made big bucks for him and a few cronies by buying and then gutting a variety of other firms having difficulty, but that bears little similarity to a national economy. He made lots o’ money, but created few jobs in the process. “Factually challenged” is a polite description of most Republican talking points over the past several years, and this latest example is no exception.

    More to the point – and this applies to both candidates – there’s not that much a President can do to fix an economy that’s in the doldrums unless he has both a coherent plan and the full cooperation of Congress, not to mention the public. Obama has had a muddled plan and zero cooperation from a Republican-controlled Congress, led by party bigwigs who have publicly stated on more than one occasion that governing is not their priority – making Obama a one-term President is their priority. Meanwhile, Obama wasted an opportunity for bolder action during his first two years when, at least on paper, Democrats were in the majority. His choice of financial advisors was – and largely continues to be – appalling.

    • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 05/04/2012 - 09:40 pm.


      Your description of Romney’s tenure with Bain isn’t true. There is no way, for instance, to describe the creation of Staples as gutting a firm. Anyway, I’ll take Romney’s familiarity with the process by which companies actually make a profit over Obama’s time community organizing.
      Also, and man this point gets forgotten a lot, Obama and the Dems had large majorities for two whole years. The stimulus package passed quickly and according to Dem designs. Projects like ‘Cash for Clunkers’ actually happened, even if the GOP objected. The repeated meme that Obama can’t possibly be held responsible is a cop out.

  4. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 05/04/2012 - 06:44 pm.

    11.1% Unemployment

    According to this:
    If you look at employment by participation rate, we would be just over the 11% line. You can slice that a few different ways (and the author does). For instance, if you account for the Baby Boom retirements, the number drops to 10.7%. I agree that it would be nice if we had a nice simply stat to point to, but the universe we’re trying to model may be too complex to really do that. In any case, we’re a long way away from the 5%ish unemployment we got so used to.
    As to Romney’s credibility, you’re probably right. After all, look at how badly Obama and Biden get dinged for their steady stream of bad predictions about the economy. Remember ‘Recovery Summer’? More seriously, I’d be happy with about 300k new jobs a month. Perhaps we could pass more regulations and get there.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/05/2012 - 03:05 pm.

    Don’t know nuthin’ ’bout…

    Rmoney seems determined to demonstrate his ignorance regarding matters economic.

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