It’s not getting much attention, but today’s final preelection jobs report poured another bucket of cold water on Donald Trump’s assertion that the economy is a disaster and that America is slipping into a dystopian nightmare of stagnation and idleness. The net jobs gain of 161,000 was a bit below expectations — partly, perhaps, due to the impact of Hurricane Matthew — but revisions of reports from the previous two months added another 44,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked back down to 4.9 percent. And wages were up again by ten cents, registering a 2.8 percent increase from last year. That’s not a lot, but it’s something. Indeed, it may be just enough to spur the ever-vigilant inflation hawks to begin emitting their harsh cries for interest-rate hikes, now expected to happen in December.
Perhaps the best news in the jobs report was teased out by economist Jed Kolko: “Employment/population ratio for prime working age at 78.2%, a post-recession high. That’s good news.”
In other words, the common Trumpian argument that too much “welfare” and not enough job opportunities are leaving an ever-higher percentage of able-bodied adults at home doing drugs and making babies is not objectively true. We had a recession, folks, and the recovery, while slow, is real. Perceptions of the economy among voters are probably too embedded by now to change between now and next Tuesday, but occasionally the real-world data trumps spin and hype.