Friday, September 05, 2008

Rising Unemployment and Functional Recession

The LA Times has an article on the unemployment rate: "The unemployment rate spiked to 6.1% in August, much higher than anticipated and the first time in five years that it has topped 6%, the Labor Department reported today.The economy has shed jobs for eight straight months, the data showed, with the losses averaging 76,000 per month since the beginning of the year. The economy must create about 100,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth."

Calculated Risk has a post on this with graphs: "Nonfarm payrolls decreased by 84,000 in August.The unemployment rate has risen to 6.1 percent.Year over year employment is now negative (fewer American were employed in Aug 2008 than in Aug 2007). This is a very weak report - more to come."

Paul Krugman blogs on the "Un-recession": "I can’t wait to hear how the White House tries to spin today’s employment report. But to be fair, this is an odd slowdown, by historical norms: no clear decline in GDP, no months of 6-digit job losses. Instead, the economy is being slowly ground down."

The question for me is why given the shitty condition of the economy, the endangered condition of our social safety net, the total mismanagement of foreign and domestic policy by the current administration, all heaped on top of the success of the 2006 mid-term elections, our lauded-to-the-stars presidential ticket is dropping in the polls, unable to retain the convention bounce? Why can't they get traction in this mess? Carville taught them what to concentrate on 16 years ago

It's the economy, stupid.



Mike J. said...

Except there is a slight difference: Bill Clinton actually gave a damn. The "feel your pain" line was not just a line--he really meant it, and Carville's exhortation was meant for Clinton's campaign staff rather than Clinton himself. The Big Dog needed no reminding. Obama, on the other hand, simply does not communicate this sense of empathy with the suffering of ordinary Americans, quite possibly because he does not actually feel anyone's pain. It would also help if he and his campaign at least briefly refrained from insulting the very people (small towners, gun owners, church-goers, etc.) whose pain he should be feeling.

In contrast, Palin and McCain have all but appropriated Hillary Clinton's campaign. One thing that came across is that they are FIGHTERS and that they will FIGHT for YOU. They say it forcefully and with conviction in a way that can't help but resonate with people who, well, need someone to fight for them. This approach worked for Clinton (again, because it was sincere), and now it seems to be working for McCain and Palin.

It doesn't hurt that their life stories and feisty personal styles are very compatible with the "fighter" theme. Geez, why can't the Democrats muster a ticket like that anymore?

Anglachel said...

Mike, I'll disagree with you somewhat on this.

I don't think that any of the four people on the presidential ticket lack empathy for other people's suffering. I absolutely believe that all of them honestly want to do what's right. I also have no doubt in my mind that what the Republicans think is right is absolutely wrong, and thus, though they intend to fight "for" me, I do not want them to succeed.

However, you're right that the Dems (it is not just limited to Obama) don't seem able to fight for their objectives effectively and that this round they are flatly blaming the voters, which is always a losing strategy.

The Republicans are always in attack mode, so it's nothing I give them credit for. However, there is so little fight in the Dems this year (launching personal broadsides against an opponent is not fighting for the party) that the Republicans don't even have to try that hard.

Thus, my warning that it's the economy, not Palin's personal history, that needs to be addressed.


Anonymous said...

Although I agree with the post, we have to wait a couple of weeks for the impact of the conventions to disappear before we look at the numbers more seriously. McCain may also lose it or make major mistakes while Obama will be focused and will not make mistakes.

Obama's campaign is quite anemic. It seems that he plays the old Democratic game called "let's be civil and polite." I still hope that he will wake up and will say not only that McCain is identical to Bush, but that McCain is responsible for the unemployment and the huge deficit since he always voted with Bush.

When Obama's faced elimination, South Carolina, he turned meaner than Rove. I hope it will repeat itself soon.

Anglachel said...

Yes, lakelobos, he has always turned meaner, but always in a personal way, not on issues. Even on the AUMF, it was always how dastardly of HRC to vote for that! He got away with it because the party and the media helped him bash Hillary. He will get no such gift from the Republicans.

The lesson of the Republican convention is that the personal attack mode is not effective against the Rightwing noise machine. The three day tracking polls for Rasmussen and Gallup have not yet recorded the full impact of the conventions, but Obama is trending down.


Unknown said...

The reason there is no traction is that both candidates are under-performers and do not inspire confidence that either will solve the problems we face.

Obama will not perform any better as president than he did as a state legislator or community organizer, or editor of the Harvard Review. McCain, will be McCain. I probably will take a chance with McCain, but I know it's hopeless. I see too much of Bush in Obama, and I won't take a chance with another loser.

I cast my first vote in 1982, and unless I see something different, this will be my first Republican vote.

Other Lisa said...

Wow. For once I feel a part of something larger than myself. I just got laid off, last day Sept. 2.

You could even use Reagan: "Are you better off now than you were 8 years ago?"

Is the country better off?

It's a pretty easy question to answer.

Snarkhis Khan said...

The Dem ticket isn't getting any traction because maybe just enough of the country saw the DNC hand the nomination over to a hand-picked candidate not supported by rank and file Dems after winking at the vicious smearing of his opponent, and of a former Dem prez, for months by his campaign and the contemptuous media, hot to push him into the Oval Office. Democrats saw themselves being played, disrespected, shamed. They know that if they're willing to stand for that behavior, regardless of the crying need for reform in government, there may never be an end to it, and there almost certainly will never be any real reform.

Desaix said...

"You could even use Reagan: "Are you better off now than you were 8 years ago?"

Is the country better off?

It's a pretty easy question to answer."

Yes, but the economy will improve by next summer regardless of who wins the election. And a new daddy won't prevent outsourcing or a jobless recovery.