I have been hard on the White House communications team before, but I give them props now for giving exactly the right amount and type of emphasis to the latest employment report. Having CEA Chairman Alan Krueger make modestly positive comments on the White House blog supplemented by a few guardedly optimistic words by the President, is far wiser than getting the trumpets out of the closet and having a gloat-fest.
There are a number of encouraging signs that the U.S. economy is growing stronger (granted, the Wizards of the Eurozone could destroy them all in the coming months), but this month’s unemployment number is largely fool’s gold. Much of the drop is accounted for by people simply giving up looking for work.
Why does this matter politically, beyond the human suffering it reflects? The new number will generate an enormous amount of news coverage, which may persuade a number of people who have given up looking for work that the time is ripe to re-engage in the search for employment. That could drive the unemployment number right back up to where it was last month, if not higher.