President Obama’s comments today made no specific mention of the disappointing jobs report or the fact that the unemployment rate ticked upward.
Instead the president focused on signs of life in the auto industry, while saying: “I don’t want to pretend like everything is solved. We’ve still got a long way to go not just in this industry, but in our economy; for all our friends, all our neighbors who are still feeling the sting of recession. …Even though the economy is growing, even though it’s created more than 2 million jobs over the past 15 months, we still face some tough times. We still face some challenges.”
While House officials claimed that there was no change in the president’s general message. And it’s true that the president generally has the same talking points about how things are getting better though we’re not out of the woods yet, and there are ups and downs.
But when the jobs numbers are good, the president likes to acknowledge them, and tell people the number.
Just last month, after a good jobs report for April, the president said, “today we found out that we added another 268,000 private sector jobs in April. So that means over the past 14 months, just in a little bit over a year, we’ve added more than 2 million jobs in the private sector.”
One year ago, the president noted that “In May (2010) the economy added 431,000 jobs…This report is a sign that our economy is getting stronger by the day.”
Today: no mention of the anemic number, or even an acknowledgment that there was a report.
The president is often very selective in his citation of figures, accentuating the positive wherever possible.
In September 2010, the jobs report showed a net job loss of 54,000 jobs. The president only mentioned the private sector job growth and the revisions of previous months that were positive, saying that “new figures show the economy produced 67,000 private sector jobs in August, the eighth consecutive month of private job growth. Additionally, the numbers for July were revised upward to 107,000.”
And lest we think he doesn’t read too much into job reports, recall that in December 2009 – when the huge job losses started trending in better direction, with only 11,000 jobs lost in November 2009 – he said, “I’ve got to admit, my chief economist, Christy Romer, she got about four hugs when she handed us the report. But I do want to keep this in perspective. We’ve still got a long way to go.”