March 5th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #775 'A better trend for unemployment'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Probably the single biggest challenge for President Obama, aside from keeping up with these letters, is lowering the unemployment rate.

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on the unexpected movement in the unemployment numbers. To have it tick down below 9 percent after all of these months of bad news certainly feels encouraging.

I know that the numbers are a lot more complex than they appear, and you know it, too. I realize that we have lost so many jobs that minor gains are really not enough to make up for the damage, unless the gains continue for a long time. And even if I didn’t know it, I’m sure a lot of our fellow citizens who are frantically looking for work would be happy to remind me. Still, seeing the unemployment rate move down is decidedly better than watching it move up.

And it is something to build on.

I am convinced that analyzing the behavior of the economy has as much to do with art as science. Seriously, how can you truly measure hope and optimism or despair and pessimism? Oh, I’ve seen plenty of pollsters attempt that trick - preparing all sorts of graphs and charts. But I’ve also seen folks brew tea and look at the leaves, and I’m not convinced either method is substantially more reliable.

But I do believe this: If you travel around enough and listen to working class folks and ask the right, open-ended, fair questions, you can get a sense of whether people believe things are getting betting or worse. And I believe little things, like a drop below nine percent, can be the seeds of a national attitude adjustment, if you want to call it that.

It’s a tiny, fragile thing. If you water it too much with your words, it will die. If you hold it up to the sun too ambitiously, it will wither. And of course, next month could bring a negative shift in the numbers again, and all bets are off. But for the moment, I hope you have a nice weekend thinking that maybe - just maybe - more Americans are feeling a little bit more confident about the direction our job market is headed and that feeling may help the momentum grow.

Call if you have a moment. I’m in Atlanta this weekend, but have my cell phone, of course.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    No help from Republicans.

    March 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm |