Quick Takes

* Let’s talk about that great jobs report that was released this morning. As is my usual practice, I checked in on what Jared Bernstein had to say about it.

Payrolls were up 292,000 in December and the unemployment rate held steady at a low rate of 5% in another in a series of increasingly solid reports on conditions in the US labor market. Upward revisions for the prior two months added 50,000 jobs, leading to an average of 284,000 jobs per month in the last quarter of 2015. In another welcome show of strength, the labor force expanded in December, leading the participation rate to tick up slightly.

December’s data reveals that US employers added a net 2.7 million jobs in 2015 while the unemployment rate fell from 5.6% last December to 5% last month. While the level of payroll gains did not surpass 2014’s addition of 3.1 million, it was otherwise the strongest year of job growth since 1999.

* While the overall unemployment rate didn’t change, the black unemployment rate dropped to 8.3% (from 9.4% in November). It is down from 16.8% in 2010.

* Joseph Wiesenthal says that this is a clear sign that the labor market is tightening.

* Chris Christopher, an economist at IHS, a forecasting firm, estimates that American households saved, on average, $722 last year from cheaper gas (as they say, your mileage may vary…literally).

* Martin O’Malley is precariously close to losing his spot in the next Democratic presidential debate.

* Martin Kobren writes that blue states do a better job of mitigating the impacts of inequality (even if blue states tend to have higher levels of inequality).

* Finally, for a little fun on a Friday evening, Claire Landsbaum has put together a quiz where you get to guess “Which Carson Said It.”

Dealing with a society where standards are slipping and the old social order is changing: It’s true of PBS’s Downton Abbey, where British aristocrats grapple with the indignities of the 20th century, and it’s true in the Republican base, where aging Americans do the same in the 21st. Fortunately, each has its quiet hero: Mr. Charles Carson, the longtime butler at the stately home of Lord Grantham, and Dr. Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon who is now fumbling his way toward the 2016 Republican nomination. Despite their differing sensibilities when it comes to home decor, they have been known to philosophize in surprisingly similar ways. Can you tell which Carson said what?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.