10 October 2006

The win's a bit diminished when you face-plant during your victory lap.

Everything the White House does these days seems to prompt a chorus of critics to claim that the Bush Administration is incompetent. It's probably the predictability and ubiquity of those criticisms which makes them less persuasive to a large swath of the electorate. People know that even the least competent official does some things right and when critics loudly decry someone's every word or action, those critics lose credibility.

All that aside, an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) makes me think twice about giving the Administration the benefit of the doubt:
The Labor Department released its September jobs report on Friday, and some wags are calling it the "whoops" report. The "whoops" is a reference to the upward revision of 810,000 previously undetected jobs that Labor now says were created in the U.S. economy in the 12 months through March 2006.

So instead of 5.8 million new jobs over the past three years, the U.S. economy has created 6.6 million. That's a lot more than a rounding error, more than the number of workers in the entire state of New Hampshire.

. . . .

Getting out of the statistical weeds, the news here is that the U.S. has a very tight labor market -- which is now translating into significant wage gains. Over the past 12 months wages have climbed by 4%, which is the biggest gain since 2001 and which economist Brian Wesbury points out is higher than the 3.3% average annual wage growth of the last 25 years.

Most of the media has ignored all this and instead focused on the disappointing 51,000 "new jobs" number from the establishment survey for September. But even in that survey, the jobs number for August was revised upward by 62,000 and the U.S. jobs machine continues to roll out an average of about 150,000 additional hires each month. Even the loss of residential construction jobs in September, due to the housing market slowdown, was nearly matched by payroll gains in commercial construction.
If you can't manage your successes properly, how can you be trusted to deal well with inevitable reverses?

By and large, we Americans have very low expectations for our political leaders. We expect that they'll concoct achievements where there are none and exaggerate their accomplishments; it's difficult to account for a politician who cannot recognize an achievement at all. For a presidential administration which has been dogged for years about the "jobless recovery" it's engineered, a failure to register, let alone trumpet, a significant turnaround in the national labor picture is well-nigh incomprehensible.

No comments: