January 6th, 2012
07:34 PM ET

Letters to the President #1082: 'The jobs report'

Reporter's Note: The White House is certainly pleased with the latest dip in the unemployment rate, but as I note in my daily letter to the White House, they are not crowing too loudly.

Dear Mr. President,

You seemed to greet the latest jobs report with a good deal of caution today, despite the fact that it brought good news, and I think that is wise. In my experience, it is always dicey to start crowing about hiring trends anywhere near the holidays. Whether the numbers are “seasonally adjusted” or not, it is easy for them to be rubbery. And if you hang your hat on them, you might find it on the floor later.

On top of which, it’s just way too early.

Republicans can stamp their feet about the jobless rate, but if it improves through Election Day, they’ll just be setting themselves up. I can just hear you on the stump a week before the vote. “Oh yes, my Republican friends have been screaming for months about how I have no plan for the economy. But unemployment has steadily dropped since the first of the year, and it now below 8 percent. Where are those critics now?” (cue the wild applause and cheering)

Conversely, if the good news turns out to be a blip and the jobless rate stalls where it is or even gets worse, you’ll get the smack down. Republican challenger: “This president doesn’t understand how this economy works. It’s time to get a president who does! (cue the wild cheers)” Actually, I didn’t make that part up. That’s a quote from a real Mitt Romney speech, and even if he doesn’t wind up with the nomination, you can bet your paycheck that you’d hear the same thing from any of the others if the jobless rate does not continuing improving.

Like I said, it’s early. So much can happen between now and next November. So, like I said, good move being cautious.

It must be very tempting to throw those numbers hard at your critics, but you’ll have to find out first how solid they are…and as the old saying goes, “only time will tell.”

Call if you get a moment.


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