Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was so strong that even Democrats could find nothing in it to criticize. And they were looking, especially as the midterms are just days away.
Tweeted Jason Furman, who headed President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors: “I’m not seeing anything bad in this jobs report. Strong hourly wage growth, even stronger weekly wage growth, higher labor force participation, lower broader underemployment, while job growth bounced back from last month and the unemployment remained low.”
Jared Bernstein, former Vice President Joe Biden’s economic advisor, couldn’t find anything wrong with Friday’s jobs report either: “Pretty much everything you could want in a monthly jobs report. Payroll gains way better than expected, nice pop in labor force participation, wage growth continues to strengthen, finally beating inflation (real gains!). Score 1 for 'room to run' crowd!”
The report almost exactly mirrored the jobs report released on Wednesday from the payroll firm ADP: Payrolls increased by 250,000 in October, the unemployment stayed at record lows (3.7 percent), wages increased by 3.1 percent (almost twice as fast as prices are increasing as measured by the Personal Consumption Index) and the best performance since 2009.
Remarkably, neither report registered any discernible impact from either Hurricane Michael or Hurricane Florence. There were temporary job losses estimated to be 60,000 but they were buried by the performance of the overall economy in October. Put another way: Without those hurricanes both jobs reports would likely have been even rosier.
Jeffrey Bartash, writing for MarketWatch.com, couldn’t find anything wrong with the BLS report, either:
The strongest labor market in decades is powering a U.S. economy that’s likely to set a record for the longest expansion ever by next year. Steady work and rising incomes are giving households the purchasing power to keep the good times going.
Bartash restrained himself from saying anything about the impact the latest jobs report might have on the November midterm elections. But President Trump didn’t. He tweeted:
Wow! The U.S. added 250,000 jobs in October — and this was despite the hurricanes. Unemployment at 3.7%. Wages UP! These are incredible numbers. Keep it going, Vote Republican!
Those still undecided just might. As Ian Kullgren noted in left-leaning Politico, the BLS report “gave President Donald Trump a critical boost in the final days before the midterm elections.… [It] gives Trump the opportunity to argue that the economy, under his leadership, is exceeding expectations. The rapid increase in wages — the largest year-over-year gain since 2009 — could also undermine Democrats’ argument that economic gains under Trump have left behind working-class voters.”
According to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), this latest report on the economy should bode well for Republicans in their efforts to retain control of both Houses come Tuesday. It said, “Numerous studies have found evidence that these … measures are effective at predicting voters’ preferences for incumbent lawmakers.”
The operative word is “incumbent.” In most toss-up races, candidates are vying for seats vacated by Republicans, leaving the Republican candidates free to try to ride the coattails of the president to Washington. And his coattails are getting longer and wider.
For months the president’s approval rating has languished in the low 40s. But starting in October those numbers began to improve. According to Rasmussen which runs the numbers daily, Trump's public approval has hit 50 or above eight times over the last month.
Democrats’ inability to find anything to criticize in the jobs reports released on Friday by the BLS could bode well for Republicans come Tuesday.