So on first glance, these jobs numbers are nothing but bad. 96,000 new jobs with downward revisions on the two previous months. So as far as description is concerned, it looks like weak growth continues to carry the day. So “what does it mean?” Well, it means we aren’t suddenly in a booming economy; things continue to peter along.
“What does it mean” has another interpretation, though: what will happen as a result? The upshot as far as I can tell?
- Undecided voters will mostly hear 8.1% unemployment and think these are good numbers.
- QE3 is gonna happen.
- The fire under the Republicans to ensure the “fiscal cliff” doesn’t occur will continue to burn hotter, meaning Obama might be able to make some headway on either stimulus or deficit reduction or both in a second term.
Certainly Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight has stressed that the jobs numbers will have significant consequences for the election: good numbers and Obama’s sure to win; bad enough numbers and he’s out. The Bernanke is relying on these BLS numbers, among others, to try to decide what to do. So I was trying to think about what to think about the actual consequences of the numbers. I’m just freewheeling here, but I think there might be some interesting and counter-intuitive results.