Remember when the media would be pissing its pants with excitement every time the jobs numbers were above 200,000 in any month during the Trump years?
Apparently the goal posts have been moved for the Biden administration. Now forecasters’ predictions – which have been spectacularly wrong all year – set unrealistically high expectations which are unattainable, given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, so they can report that jobs numbers that are above 200,000 a month are somehow “disappointing” or “weak.”
Like CNBC, which I detest. Biden glosses over weak November job gains to highlight low unemployment rate:
The U.S. economy created far fewer jobs than expected in November, in a sign that hiring started to slow even before the announcement of the new omicron Covid variant, the Labor Department reported earlier in the day.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by just 210,000 for the month, though the unemployment rate fell sharply to 4.2% from 4.6%. The labor force participation rate increased for the month to 61.8%, its highest level since March 2020.
President Joe Biden glossed over the weak November jobs report Friday, instead focusing on the low unemployment rate and the yearlong trend of growth and economic recovery.
Well, yeah! As you should, CNBC. I am reminded of Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes. “Why don’t you knock it off with those negative waves! … Why don’t you say something righteous, and hopeful for a change?”
As I said, economic forecasters have been spectacularly wrong all year, and the media has been underreporting the jobs numbers and creating the false impression of a weak economic recovery. As Phillip Bump explains, The U.S. has added nearly 1 million more jobs in 2021 than initially reported:
[T]he country added only 210,000 jobs in November, well below expectations and below the pace needed to replace the jobs lost since the start of the pandemic. But in 2021, the anodyne qualifier that the numbers are subject to revision is more important than ever. The odds are good that the November total is being underreported — as happened nearly every other month this year.
Note: The numbers you see reported each month are only estimates, not actual hiring numbers, which can take months to verify, and lead to later revisions which are statistically more accurate (but few people see).
It happened in the November jobs report, too. Yes, the top-line number of 210,000 jobs wasn’t what economists hoped to see. But there were also upward revisions to the September and October jobs numbers, by 67,000 jobs in the former and 15,000 in the latter.
The change to the September number is the second revision. The first increased the initial estimate by 118,000. In other words, the September jobs total was increased by 185,000 since it was initially reported as 194,000 — an initial report that was described as “disappointing.” Since that “disappointing” report, the estimated number of jobs added in the month has nearly doubled.
That’s happened repeatedly this year. Since 1979, the furthest back that Bureau of Labor Statistics data on revisions goes, the country has never added as many jobs in a year or seen such a large upward revision.
As I’ve said before, there are some statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics who need to start looking for another job, because they have been so godawful at their job this year. Lucky for them, it’s an employee’s job market.
When The Washington Post’s Andrew Van Dam looked at this phenomenon last month, he explained that the revisions are a function of how the government’s estimates work, including revising its understanding of when job growth occurs. But the effect, in this case, is a cumulative shift in the initial reported jobs totals that, by now, is nearing 1 million.
In total, that’s an upward shift of 976,000 jobs. It is the largest upward revision over the course of a year.
[T]his weirdness also serves as a cautionary note for the jobs report released on Friday. In 2021, at least, the initial number of jobs reported might be treated the way Mark Twain treated the weather in New England. If you’re not happy about it, wait a little bit.
The Washington Post adds, U.S. economy adds just 210,000 jobs in November (“Always with the negative waves, Moriarty!“):
“Holistically this report looks pretty good,” said Drew Matus, chief market strategist for MetLife Investment Management. “More people are participating in the economy and fewer of them are unemployed. When you take those two together, I think they’re more important than what the headline payroll figure might look like.”
Yet, economists had been [unrealistically] predicting about 500,000 to 600,000 jobs for November, after similarly strong gains in October had raised hopes about a period of more sustained labor market growth.
Coronavirus cases began rising the week that the surveys were taken, and the data, which is seasonally adjusted according to pre-pandemic patterns, is still vulnerable to surprising shifts from the way the pandemic has thrown off the once routine rhythms of the economy.
“The slowdown was largely driven by the service sector, which has both the largest remaining shortfall to precrisis jobs levels and has also carried jobs growth for the year,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor. “The delta wave is still lingering. We have seen improvement from the peak in September cases but are still at an elevated level. We can’t write off the effects of the pandemic on the labor market.”
Zhao pointed out that 69 percent of the remaining shortfall of jobs compared to pre-pandemic times are from leisure and hospitality, education, and health care — sectors that rely on face-to-face interactions among large numbers of people.
“Because covid sensitive industries are where job shortfalls remain, the resurgent pandemic and concerns about the omicron variant means that covid remains the largest threat to a full jobs recovery,” he said.
In other words, the “Pandemic of The Unvaccinated” is what is holding us back, i.e., the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers of the Trump Death Cult who have made refusing to get vaccinated the touchstone of their death cult. These nihilists are intentionally sabotaging the economic recovery and recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Post almost grudgingly acknowledges some “positive waves,” as if they are disappointed:
Still, labor market growth has been encouraging this year so far: The country has been averaging adding more than 500,000 jobs a month, gaining back more than 5 million jobs lost in the early days of the pandemic.
By way of comparison: Trump left office with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover:
“During the first three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, the economy did quite well. The unemployment rate hit a 50-year low, and the economic expansion he inherited from President Obama continued into the longest expansion in American history.
But that all came to a shrieking halt when COVID-19 hit.
In a two-month period, February to April 2020, the unemployment rate soared to an 80-year high and the number of employed Americans fell from 152.5 million to 130.3 million. Those 22.2 million job losses set U.S. employment back to 1999 levels.
That meant that Trump [was] the first post–World War II president to see employment fall during his presidency. It last occurred when Herbert Hoover left office in 1933 amid the early years of the Great Depression.”
There have been some positive economic signs recently as well. Weekly unemployment filings have trended steadily downward in recent months, even dipping below the pre-pandemic average to a new historical low the week before Thanksgiving.
The trade deficit narrowed in October, and consumer spending increased at its fastest pace since March, according to estimates from the Commerce Department.
CNBC also has some “positive waves” this morning. The economy is roaring with the holidays. Holiday sales on track to blow past record for spending, topping retail trade group’s biggest forecast:
Holiday sales could exceed even the rosiest expectations for the major shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation.
The major trade group’s economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said Friday that spending in November and December could grow as much as 11.5% compared with the same period a year ago — higher than many retail analysts and NRF itself had predicted.
The NRF had already called for a record holiday season, projecting in late October that sales would rise between 8.5% and 10.5% from last year. The group said it expected sales in November and December would hit an all-time high of between $834.4 billion and $859 billion. The sales forecast excludes spending at automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants.
Last year, holiday sales rose 8.2% from 2019 to a record $777.3 billion, according to the NRF.
“People have the ability to spend and I think they are in the mood to spend,” Kleinhenz said in an interview. He pointed to strong balance sheets coming out of the pandemic, the low unemployment rate and the desire to reunite for holiday gatherings.
All that pent-up consumer demand for goods, rather than services during the Coronavirus pandemic, is what is behind the supply chain issues this year. But even here, there are some “positive waves” since the Biden administration is working with businesses and labor to unwind the supply chain backlog.
Jennifer Rubin writes, Those supply chains are straightening out. So is Biden’s rhetoric.
Photos of cargo containers backed up at ports and complaints from consumers about delivery delays and shortages have jolted the Biden administration into action, forcing it to focus on supply chains and the cost-containment features of the Build Back Better legislation. On both counts, the White House received some good news on Wednesday.
As Steve Rattner, who served as auto-industry czar in the Obama administration, explains, “It’s still hard to get a new iPhone quickly, but the good news is that the supply bottlenecks are showing signs of easing.” While the appearance of a new coronavirus variant could affect progress and not all supply chain issues have been resolved, Rattner argues that “for now, we can be at least a little bit hopeful.”
That’s because pressure from President Biden and local government officials on ports is showing results. Rattner explains, “In mid-November, 86 container ships were floating around San Pedro Bay waiting for a berth. Today, just two weeks later, that figure is down to 44, roughly where we were in early September.” As a result, the cost of sending a container from China to the West Coast, which hit a high of more than $20,000, is down about 25 percent.
During remarks on Wednesday, Biden boasted that “because of the actions the administration has taken in partnership with business and labor, retailers and grocery stores, freight movers and railroads, those [holiday] shelves are going to be stocked.” He added: “The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have moved 16 percent more containers so far this year than last year. By working with business and labor, my administration has been able to handle the huge surge in goods moving through some of our biggest ports.” He also said that the executives of major retailers told him that “they’re ready to meet the consumer demand for the holidays.”
Biden’s message on inflation is sharper and tougher than it had previously been. He now stresses Build Back Better’s cost-containment features, arguing on Wednesday, “It will lower out-of-pocket costs for child care, elder care, housing, college, health care and prescription drugs. These are the biggest costs that most families face.”
The president has also given up on tiptoeing around Republican obstructionism, slamming the GOP for effectively preventing families from taking advantage of lower costs. “Now my Republican friends are talking a lot about prices,” he said, “but they’re lined up against my Build Back Better (BBB) plan, which would go right at the problem for rising costs for families.”
In some of his most pointed language, he accused the GOP of rooting for failure, taking specific aim at Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s gaffe that inflation is a “gold mine” for Republicans. As Biden said:
We’re in a situation that as far as Republicans are concerned, they’d rather the bills at your kitchen table be higher so the tax bills of corporate conference rooms and big mansions can be lower. In this case, let me tell you something: Nothing will be more expensive for American families than a “no” vote on the Build Back Better plan.
That should be the Democrats’ 2022 argument in a nutshell, provided they can get the BBB bill over the finish line.
Note: Prima donna Democratic divas Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are still trying to deny Americans a Christmas gift of passing the Build Back Better bill before the end of this year.
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) December 3, 2021
To bolster his case, Biden pointed to a new study from the Democratic centrist think tank Third Way, which found that BBB’s child tax credit, child-care spending caps, expanded Affordable Care Act premium caps and measures to close the Medicaid coverage gap would result in an average savings of $7,400 for a family of four. For the average single mother with two kids, the measures could save $15,000. Third Way also notes: “Not included in this calculation are the benefits families could receive such as universal Pre-K if they had a 3- or 4-year-old child, new housing subsidies, or SNAP benefits, among many others.”
Republicans, having made inflation a central critique of the Biden agenda, will now find the White House taking credit for progress on supply chains. The administration will also be able to paint Republican opposition to the BBB plan as akin to cheering inflation.
That they are! Even on the inflation front, there is good news, but you would never know it from much of the lamestream media trying to create a self-fulfilling inflation psychology, the reckless and irresponsible bastards.
As Catherine Rampell explains, Every time I think the inflation discourse can’t get dumber, I’m proven wrong (just turn on any Fox channel) (excerpt):
To be fair: The forces behind inflation, like many economic problems, are complicated. Economists can’t fully explain what determines current pricing behavior and inflation expectations in the real world, much less precisely predict where prices will land in a few months. New waves in the pandemic aren’t helping, either.
Most inflation predictions that top forecasters made in the spring turned out to be much too low. Elite academic economists, when surveyed about the risks of prolonged inflation, candidly acknowledge a lot of uncertainty.
All of which means there’s a lot of room for reasonable error on this issue, even among experts. But lately partisan factions have concocted new, unreasonable sources of error, too. Some of this rhetoric has been impressively creative; it’s basically like inflation fan fiction.
[T]he right has been spinning increasingly ludicrous tall tales about inflation. That’s because Republicans see high inflation as valuable political fodder heading into the midterms.
“This is a gold mine for us,” as Sen. Rick Scott (R-fla.) recently put it.
As Scott presumably knows, presidents have extremely limited power to affect prices, especially prices set by global markets (as is the case for, say, oil). But voters don’t really understand this, and many are eager to blame the president whenever they’re unhappy about the rising costs for gas or groceries. The GOP has decided it should take advantage. Strategists are working overtime to exploit voters’ economic ignorance by proposing ways that Democrats might have swelled prices.
Republicans and right-wing media have argued, for instance, that President Biden has driven up energy prices as part of his supposed war on fossil fuels.
Specifically, they blame him for shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline. They don’t mention, however, that this pipeline was only 8 percent built when Biden revoked a U.s.-side permit for its construction. So Biden did not actually shut down any existing supply. (It’s also not clear that the canceled XL pipeline would have much effect on U.S. gas prices, even if it were eventually built someday, given that most oil passing through it likely would be exported.)
But the idiots who waste their lives watching Fox News/Fox Business all day don’t know this, nor do they care. It’s all about “owning the libs” and wanting to eliminate their political opponents, quite literally, and quite violently.
Or, Republicans say the real way Biden raised gas prices was by ending drilling for oil and gas on public lands.
This didn’t actually happen, even if Biden’s campaign pledges and executive actions suggested it would. The Associated Press reported in July that the Biden administration was on track to approve more oil and gas drilling permits this year than were approved any year of the Trump administration — actually, more than any year since 2008.
And last month, just a few days after the global climate conference known as COP26, the Biden administration conducted the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history.
And that made “The Squad” and liberals concerned about addressing climate change with the Green New Deal angry.
Other GOP talking points about “Bidenflation” have gotten increasingly wacky. Recently Lara Trump told Fox News viewers that inflation is part of a Democratic plot to force families to give up beloved American traditions and holidays, including Thanksgiving and Halloween. (The “War on Christmas” now has spinoff conflicts, apparently.)
[T]he main reason price growth is up has to do with constrained supply not keeping up with booming demand. That is, the pandemic has resulted in worker shortages, supply chain disruptions and other bottlenecks in the United States and abroad. These problems are happening at the exact same time that cooped-up consumers are eager to buy even more stuff than they did pre-pandemic. [But see above].
[A]side from some vague rhetoric about Democrats’ “big spending” habits, though, those [pandemic relief] checks [and child tax credit payments] are not really what Republican politicians are criticizing Biden for. Perhaps with good reason: The spring [pandemic relief] checks were extremely popular, including among Republican voters [as are the child tax credit payments]. Plus, this line of attack might also implicate former president Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, since they too passed multiple rounds of stimulus payments last year.
Actually, every Republican voted against the American Rescue Plan and the child tax credit payments. This is what they should be driven out of office over. They intentionally wanted Americans to suffer as part of their nihilistic sabotage of the economic recovery and recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.
So they’re peddling “war on Halloween” [and Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and …] hokum instead.
Fox News is so spectacularly stupid that whenever someone has the TV tuned into that channel and I am forced to listen to it, I swear to God that I can actually feel brain cells dying. I have to leave the room to prevent brain damage. Fox should come with a “dangerous to your health” warning chyron on screen.