Jobs report bolsters Obama's re-election case

The strengthening economy is beginning to translate into greater public optimism.

By MSNMoney partner Mar 9, 2012 1:46PM Mike Dorning, Bloomberg


A surge in new jobs last month that held the U.S. unemployment rate to 8.3 percent highlights a strengthening economy that bolsters President Barack Obama as he approaches re-election.


"If this continues, he'll have the edge -- not necessarily a huge edge but an edge," said Christopher Wlezien, a political science professor at Temple University in Philadelphia and co- author with Robert Erikson of the forthcoming book "The Timeline of Presidential Elections."


Employers added 227,000 jobs in February, more than forecast, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median projection of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 210,000 increase.


The unemployment rate held steady after dropping for five consecutive months from 9.1 percent in August.


"For voters who are used to an unemployment rate that starts with a 9, this looks like progress," said Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who was interviewed before the release of the jobs report. "It might not be a huge victory for Obama's re-election campaign. But it's not going to be a significant drag on him either."


Obama is scheduled to speak later Friday at a Rolls-Royce factory in Prince George County, Virginia, that manufactures jet engine parts.


Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator seeking the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nomination, said today the economy is recovering "in spite of" the Obama administration's policies.


"Certainly a quarter of a million jobs, roughly, being added is a positive step forward," Santorum said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt" airing this weekend.


The administration "has consistently seen, you know, bad job reports because of bad policies that have led to those job reports," he said. "And eventually, you know, the economy does recover, in spite of the headwinds that this administration has put in its place."


The strengthening economy is beginning to translate into greater public optimism, even with recent increases in gasoline prices.


Consumer confidence climbed to a four-year high last week, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (COMFCOMF). For a fifth straight week, half of those surveyed also rated their personal finances as positive, bolstered by a resilient stock market, faster job growth and rising wages.


The Commerce Department last week reported that the economy grew at a 3 percent annual pace in the final quarter of 2011, up from a 1.8 percent gain the prior three months.


While potential threats loom on the horizon -- such as further gasoline price increases, a war in the Middle East or a worsening of the European debt crisis -- most private forecasts anticipate slow improvement in the unemployment rate in the months before Election Day, Nov. 6.


"Over the last several months, the economy has gone from being a net negative for Obama to probably something close to a wash," said Schnur, a campaign adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain's first bid for the White House in 2000.

Projected Joblessness


The median projection for unemployment during the final quarter of the year is 8.1 percent, according to a Bloomberg News survey of 75 economists conducted Feb. 3 to Feb. 9.


That sets the stage for a "classic glass-half-full, glass- half-empty argument" over the jobless rate during the summer, Schnur said.


Republican front-runner Mitt Romney previewed just such a critique on the night of the Super Tuesday Republican primaries on March 6, arguing that 8.3 percent unemployment may be the best the Obama administration can achieve, yet the country "can do better" than an 8 percent rate.


The White House has focused on the progress that has been made since Obama took office in January 2009. The U.S. lost 818,000 jobs that month.


"We're picking up from a relatively slow growth rate," said Joel Prakken, senior managing director of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in St. Louis. "It's good news for the president but it's still pretty dicey."

More from Bloomberg

Mar 12, 2012 12:18AM

For the Kool Aid drinking left. Get ready for the Shyt storm ready to be released on O'bummers Birth Cert. Plain and simple, it was manufactured.


Hence, O'bama is a fraud!!!

Mar 11, 2012 11:17PM
An 8.1% unemployment rate by year's end isn't much of an improvement; in fact, the improvement could be the result of job seekers giving up. If gas prices rise because we're meddling in the Mideast instead of developing our oil reserves, our president's reelection campaign will be in big trouble. Mitt Romney, with his business accomplishments, seems the candidate best qualified to lead us to a real recovery.
Mar 11, 2012 9:58PM

As the various economic indicators improve, the reelection of Obama becomes an inevitable reality. All the GOP rhetoric and nonstop campaigning will be an incredible exercise in futility.

It is over before it begins.

Mar 11, 2012 9:25PM

There's only (1) thing you can trust in the Universe....NUMBERS....THEY DON'T LIE!!!!  If a doctor tells you there's a 95% chance you'll be dead in 6 months, you better write a Will. 750,000+ jobs lost EVERY MONTH under the Republican/Bush/MittRomney/Santorum  "Top Down" approach got us the financial crisis.  Democratic/Obama "Middle-Class" first approach got us 24+ months of private sector growth.  Do the math.  Are these (NUMBERS) lies, or are they just what folks on the right who make up sh*t as they go along and hope folks who stupid enough to believe it bite the bait?


"Think before you speak, not speak before you think"

Mar 11, 2012 3:46PM
Once again another MSN shill squeezing and eking out some positive SPIN for the Obomanator.
Mar 11, 2012 3:05PM
Socialism redistributes the wealth. Socialism equals bankruptcy, bankruptcy makes everybody equal, we are all broke!!
Mar 11, 2012 2:57PM
The liberal news media will do anything to sell Obama. They have been p--sed off at the world every  since communism failed in Russia.
Mar 11, 2012 2:35PM
Outright lying does not equate to more votes! Who you trying to kid?
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