October 7th, 2012
04:03 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN panel: What does the jobs report mean for the campaign?

(CNN) - In a week that looked like it would end with widespread criticism of President Barack Obama's debate performance, it instead closed with a slight boost to his campaign with Friday's surprising jobs report, according to a CNN roundtable.

The report, released by the Labor Department, showed that 114,000 jobs were added during the month of September, and that the unemployment rate had fallen to 7.8%, down from 8.1% in August. The jobs report was less of a happy occasion for the president and more of a relief the week did not end with politically harmful jobs statistics, CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin said Sunday on "State of the Union."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

Yellin said the unemployment rate was a "symbolic" marker for the president, as it occurred at a point in the campaign when many undecided voters begin to decide their pick. In addition, she said, the job numbers drew attention away from the debate.

Joining Yellin on the roundtable were Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and New York Times White House Correspondent Jackie Calmes.

Holtz-Eakin warned that it might be too soon to celebrate just yet, as the numbers could be readjusted with a higher unemployment rate in next month's jobs report. That possibility, he said, would hurt the president, as the report is due to be issued the Friday before Election Day. Calmes pointed out that many people will have voted by that point through early voting.

Calmes also noted that the decreased unemployment rate was even better than it looked, as it resulted from people finding jobs, rather than people quitting the job search and leaving the labor force. Holtz-Eakin did call attention to the fact that labor force participation was at its lowest levels since 1981, although Zandi said much of that was due to demographics.

With the positive jobs report, Calmes said she believes that Republican nominee Mitt Romney should continue to focus on the economy, saying the campaign has been hurt in recent weeks when it focused on other topics.

Yellin said the candidates should talk about the economy through personal stories, which could allow the candidates to "break through" with voters. She pointed out that Romney during the debate told a few stories of struggling Americans he had met on the campaign trail and said that helped him. Romney, rather than focusing on the abstract, should "get away from the [jobs] numbers, and tell the reality," she said.

Holtz-Eakin also dismissed the theory among some conservatives that the Obama administration manipulated the jobs report for political gain, saying "the numbers were collected in a professional way," and were a "statistical anomaly, not a conspiracy." Zandi called the theory "silly" and "counterproductive."

Calmes said that if the conspiracy was real, then the White House should have been manipulating jobs reports much earlier, as most voters had probably already made a conclusion about the economy's trajectory.

Zandi also discussed a Moody's projection that has Obama winning the election based on the economies of individual states, pointing to the improving economy of Ohio in particular, and said the administration's bailout of the auto industry was a major boost for the state.

The roundtable also briefly previewed Thursday's vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Romney running mate Paul Ryan.
Holtz-Eakin said it will give voters the opportunity to see Ryan for the first time without the "distraction of the campaigns" and that people will "be surprised by what they see." Yellin said Biden will have to try to make up for Obama's debate performance and that Biden has historically been a strong debater.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Economy • TV-State of the Union • unemployment
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Bart

    Obama, after promising to cut the deficit in half in his first term, instead explodes it by $6 trillion. By the end of a second term, he will have easily produced more debt than all previous Presidents COMBINED. Those numbers are real, the price of gas is real, the prices at the grocery store are real. The so-called unemployment rate is a laughable construct of a corrupt, self-serving government that magically ignores the unemployed who have become so discouraged that they stop looking for work. Were they still counted the unemployment rate would be over 11%. Obama is the worst president we've ever had, and no amount of lies and media spin can change that.

    October 8, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  2. mike271828

    It's apparent, from the comments here and from conversations I have as I travel with my work, that more ans more Americans are seeing through the fraud that is Romney and Lyin' Ryan. This is happening despite Romney's loud, rude, bluff and bluster in the first debate – in part because Romney so brazenly and grossly misrepresented the policies that he and Ryan are proposing.

    Maybe the country will, after all, reject these far-right creeps (not "conservatives", please - they are not about conserving anything) who want to plunder America, just like Romney previously plundered American companies to enrich himself. At GST Steel, for example, Romney looted the company, bankrupted it, destroyed all the jobs, and the pension fund vanished. Look it up for yourself via Google. Anyone who thinks the same wouldn't happen to America on a large scale if Romney was President, and the Republicans controlled the Congress, is a fool. Just look at the Romney and Ryan proposals for taxes, the budget and Medicare.

    Their tax proposals would reduce Romney's own taxes from only 13-14% on a declared income of about $20 million (!! - compare your own tax bill), to zero or near zero, while increasing taxes for most of us (what Romney said to the contrary in the debate is simply a lie). They'll increase your taxes and mine it by eliminating tax "loopholes" like the mortgage interest tax deduction, which so many of us rely on, while retaining huge real tax loopholes like the "carried interest" rule that allows Romney to treat most of his income as not being real, fully taxable income at all !! Of course, Romney refuses to release the full details of his tax plan (just like he refuses to release his own tax returns in full); but it's clear from what he and Ryan have already admitted to, where they are headed.

    Their budget proposals and their voucher scheme to replace Medicare would begin the process, long threatened quite openly by the far right, and now within an inch of succeeding, of destroying the entire social safety net: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare"), and food stamps. The ultimate "thin end of the wedge". Don't believe Lyin' Ryan when he says he's trying to "reform" or "save" Medicare: nothing could be further from the truth.

    This disastrous course of action threatens to plunge a large part of America into abject poverty an an attempt to further enrich the billionaires who own Romney and Ryan. It will succeed in impoverishing the many; but ironically it won't even succeed in further enriching the few, because the resulting lack of income and spending power across America will derail the whole economy again, just like Republicans Bush (in the White House) and Greenspan (as Chairman of the Federal Reserve) derailed the whole economy in 2008. To save America from disaster, it's VITAL to defeat Romney and Lyin' Ryan, and the Republican Senate and House candidates on their coat-tails.

    October 8, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  3. mike271828

    "jagga" writes "Romney has the business experience and proven success" - oh sure, like the way he looted and bankrupted GST Steel and Ampad, not only destroying these companies (and six others) and all the employees jobs, but leaving the employees to a retirement of poverty without the pensions they and the company had paid into, because Bain had looted the pension funds too.

    October 8, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  4. Thomas

    @cooking the books...there's no doubt about it...
    ya, all of a sudden, a month before the election, the rate goes from 8.1 to 7.8 when for 4 yrs its barely budged...ya right.

    something is off...maybe the new job surveys they took were taken from mainly democrat owned businesses??? something reeks to high heaven on this one...

    President Bush acknowledged that Americans are concerned about job security, health care and retirement but maintained that the U.S. economy remains strong.
    "There's a variety of reasons why people are uncertain," "But when they take a hard look at the statistics–and the reality–I hope it brings them some comfort to know this economy is strong and is setting all kinds of records."

    cooking the books...there's no doubt about it...When was the last time you went to see an ENT Dr for a your chronic GOP sinusitis ?

    October 8, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  5. anonoymous

    I understand party bias but I cant understand such hate among americans. Too bad our children are seeing us fight each instead of trying to work together for a common cause. I have a job a good one and ive had it for almost 18yrs. Jobs are not my issue but I like hearing people are getting hired. God help those who not at least happy about that!

    October 8, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  6. Arun

    Unlike the lies the Repubes told us about Iraq have WMD's, the cooking of the jobs report is impossible.

    October 8, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  7. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    just more fake numbers from the obamanites, to bad obama cannot be truthful at least once.

    October 8, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
1 2