Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - Liberal pundits are gushing over last week's job report, hoping it will give President Obama and his party the political boost they need to avoid yet another devastating defeat in the midterm elections.

After nearly five and a half years of a job-challenged, sluggish economy that all but stopped growing in the last three months, they're hailing the Labor Department report as the long-awaited antidote to the Democrats' deepening political troubles.

"If they aren't exactly popping champagne corks over at the White House, at the very least there's surely a sigh of relief, and a renewed hope" that Democrats might head into November with a better narrative about the economy," writes Washington Post blogger Paul Waldman.

"For Democrats desperately in search of a way to change the national political environment in advance of the November election, the surprisingly strong April jobs report represents a ray of light," cheers the Post's election tracker Chris Cillizza.

Then there's this analysis from the Post's chief political reporter, Dan Balz:

"Friday's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggested that the economy roared into a different gear last month, adding 288,888 jobs."

The Obama economy "roaring"? Even a cursory review of the job numbers revealed that beneath the statistics this report showed fewer people were working, not more. This is an economy struggling on many levels, one that Fed Chairman Janet Yellen says is still stuck in a recovery and will likely remain so for the next year or more.

Balz's analysis, which ran under the headline, "Will the jobs report give Democrats a political boost?", said the number of jobs created last month was "the best single month of job growth since January 2012."

"The unemployment rate plunged, from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent," he said, adding that the jobless rate is "now 1.2 percent lower than it was a year ago and the lowest since September 2008..."

But the number of jobs created last month came with a lot of caveats. It was nowhere near the 350,000 a month full-time jobs the economy needs to bring unemployment down to normal levels anytime soon, economists say.

We are in the sixth year of one of the longest recovery periods ever -- when the average length of all post-war recessions has been about two years. And don't think the voters haven't noticed this.

In the Reagan years, we came roaring out of the 1981-82 recession with monthly job numbers in the 350,000 to 400,000 range and higher. In September, 1983 alone the economy produced more than one million jobs. The jobs the Obama economy's been racking up are nowhere near those levels.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.