Yes, Mr. Press Secretary – Unemployment Rates Do Matter

The Labor Department released their report for June with some disappointing numbers. Job creation was well below the predictions and unemployment rose to 9.2%. As if attempting to spin this bad news, Thursday President Obama’s top political adviser, David Plouffe, said, “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate; they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’ ” Today, White House press secretary Jay Carney doubled down on this line of reasoning saying, “Most people do not sit around their kitchen table and analyze GDP and unemployment numbers. They talk about how they feel their own economic situation is.” (Source) Whether the White House is trying to spin this latest report for their supporters, themselves or both is unclear but what is clear is that famous expression, “it’s the economy, stupid,” is hampering the prospects of the President’s reelection, and they know it.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, people aren’t exactly analyzing GDP (so score one for Carney) but the unemployment rate is certainly on a lot of people’s minds and in their conversations. In addition to their own personal economic situation, people are also concerned about the economic conditions in their neighborhoods, cities, regions and states. We’re not only concerned with the higher unemployment rates, but the higher rates of empty stores and offices. We’re concerned about the higher number of homes on the market (and the increased time it takes to sell them). We’re concerned about the increased number of panhandlers and homeless, the increased number of older Americans forced into early retirement, and we’re certainly concerned about the lack of job creation that’s contributing to the high unemployment rate.

So yes, Mr. Press Secretary, Americans are analyzing the unemployment rates – as well as other economic indicators, even if it’s not the GDP. Not every American is a highly educated economist but as one famous Minnesotan put it, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

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