The Run-Up To Friday’s Jobs Report

Friday’s September Jobs Report is perhaps the last predictable external event that could affect the presidential contest. Yes, there will be one more of the suckers the Friday before Election Day, but by then maybe a third of the vote will have already been cast, and the undecided vote will have declined to a distant murmur. So given the state of the race and the continued reliance of both parties on perceptions of the direction of the economy, the September numbers could offer the final shot.

ADP’s private payroll report for September is out, showing gains of 162,000 jobs, beating predictions by a comfortable margin (though reported gains for previous months were adjusted downward). At the moment, Reuters is reporting an expectation that the official BLS report will show net job gains of 113,000. That’s not a large enough number to quiet shrieks of dismay from Republican spinners, particularly if (as is very likely) the unemployment rate pretty much stays the same. But if the number comes in at five figures, we’ll hear an unearthly din of complaints and predictions of even greater calamity if Obama is re-elected. If this sort of thing annoys you, it might be a good idea to tune out on Friday morning, particularly in the hour or so after the usual 8:30 EDT release time for BLS.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.