Jobs Growth Is Great, Throw the Bums Out!

By
 U.S. President Barack Obama (C), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) (R) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) take part in a ceremony to unveil a statue honoring the late civil rights activist Rosa Parks in Statutory Hall of the U.S. Capitol February 27, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Some facts about today’s jobs report.

This is the 49th consecutive month of net job creation, the longest stretch since the 1930s. For nine straight months, employers have added 200,000 jobs or more, the longest stretch since 1995. We are on track to have the strongest year of jobs growth since the dot-com bubble burst 15 years go. 

Yes, there’s crummy news in the report. It was not as strong as economists had predicted. Wages still are not rising, even though the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent. The number of Americans with a full-time job has still not returned to its pre-recession level.

But all in all, it is good news. And still, Democrats got voted out of office.

That fact has led to a tremendous amount of soul-searching and post-hoc explanation this week. But a major factor seems to be the fact that voters do not feel the economy getting better — despite the jobs growth, falling gas prices, and on and on. Per the Times, “Election Day exit polls found that 78 percent of those surveyed were very or somewhat worried about the future direction of the economy, while two-thirds said they believed the economy was getting worse.” 

There, the major factor seems to be that median incomes are falling and wages are not rising. “This lackluster wage growth is a clear indicator that there’s still considerable slack in the labor market,” said Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute. “With so many Americans looking for work — and millions more who would be looking for work if job opportunities were stronger — employers simply don’t have to offer wage increases to get and keep the workers they need.”

Households still feel distressed and strapped. At this point, it looks like all the jobs growth in the world won’t convince Americans that the economy really, truly is getting better. So when might wages tick up? Economists keep on expecting them to. The labor market has gotten significantly tighter, after all. But even with more than a million Americans getting a job this year, there are no clear signs of any improvement yet.