The unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent in October, the highest rate since April 1983, the Department of Labor reported this morning. Psychologically speaking, I think the jump to “double digit” unemployment will make it a lot more difficult for the Obama administration to argue that the economic stimulus program is working well. The economy shed 190,000 jobs in October, which is a slower rate of losses than the revised 219,000 in September but higher than the 154,000 loses in August. There were also 808,000 discouraged workers who are not included in the unemployment rate because they aren’t looking for work because they believe no jobs are available. That number is up from 706,000 in September.
And let us not forget that when President Obama pitched the economic stimulus package in a February prime time press conference, he was pretty clear about his “bottom line“:
My bottom line is to make sure that we are saving or creating 4 million jobs….
So my bottom line when it comes to the recovery package is send me a bill that creates or saves 4 million jobs….
But my bottom line is, are we creating 4 million jobs, and are we laying the foundation for long-term economic growth?…
And there was also this exchange:
QUESTION: — how can the American people gauge whether or not your programs are working?
Can they — should they be looking at the metric of the stock market, home foreclosures, unemployment? What metric should they use? When? And how will they know if it’s working or whether or not we need to go to a Plan B?
MR. OBAMA: I think my initial measure of success is creating or saving 4 million jobs. That’s bottom line number one, because if people are working, then they’ve got enough confidence to make purchases, to make investments. Businesses start seeing that consumers are out there with a little more confidence. And they start making investments, which means they start hiring workers.
So step number one, job creation.
Since the economic stimulus bill passed, about 2.9 million jobs have now been lost.
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