If the latest unemployment figures had come out Nov. 2, instead of Friday, we could have been sure that Democrats would have flooded us with dismissive rationalizations and Republicans would have crowed that the numbers proved President Obama’s economic policies were a failure.
Instead, the jobless figures, showing unemployment rising to 7.9 percent in January from 7.8 percent in December, were ignored by the politicians, who have moved on to occupy themselves with sequestration, fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings and other dramas.
Although the jobless rate was basically unchanged since last September, employers were adding jobs at a fairly healthy rate.
A jobs recovery is under way; the reason why rates don’t seem to be changing much is because more people are seeking those jobs.
Companies added 157,000 jobs in January, and the Department of Labor significantly revised upward its estimates of end-of-the-year hiring.
The higher Social Security tax that took effect in January didn’t do terrible damage to consumer spending, which remained high along with business investment.
And these new figures show bellwether industries – such as construction, retail, and hotels and restaurants – adding jobs.
The stock market thought all of this was promising news and the Dow Jones industrial average topped 14,000 Friday for the first time in five years.
But the short-term outlook is not terribly promising, in part because of uncertainty over what Congress will do.