Quick Takes: Want Some Good News? Jobs!

* Let’s go take a look at what Jared Bernstein had to say about the jobs report that was released this morning.

Payrolls posted a big 287,000 jump in June in stark contrast to revised gains of just 11,000 in May. Such monthly volatility provides an extremely clear example of why we should never over-interpret one month’s worth of jobs data. You have to “smooth,” or average out the gains over numerous months, as I do below. When you do so, you get a picture of a solid job market, adding somewhat fewer jobs than a year ago, but still making progress towards full employment.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.9% as more people entered the labor market, leading to a small but welcome uptick in the participation rate, up one-tenth to 62.7%. Year-over-year wage growth ticked up slightly as well, from 2.5% to 2.6%, a positive sign that some of the benefits of the ongoing recovery are finally reaching workers’ paychecks. As shown below, this pace of wage growth remains well below Fed chair Yellen’s benchmark target of 3.5%. In other words, this trend should be very much welcomed, not feared! It’s what’s supposed to happen as the job market improves and working people get a little more bargaining power.

* Harry Enten affirms what I wrote the other day about white flight from the Republican Party.

Donald Trump does really well among white voters without a college degree. Indeed, he is on track to carry that group by a wider margin than Mitt Romney did over President Obama four years ago. But there’s another side to that coin: While Trump is outperforming your run-of-the-mill Republican among whites without a college degree, he’s underperforming among white voters with a college degree. In fact, he is on a track to lose white college graduates.

That’s really unusual for a Republican, and it means that among white voters overall, he’s probably not holding a winning hand…

The 2016 election is being contested along a different battle line than presidential elections usually are. Well-educated white voters say they’re going to vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in numbers that just haven’t been seen over the past 60 years.

* If you’d like some interesting reading over the weekend, here’s what I recommend.

Few aspects of the Obama administration have been uncontroversial. Yet releasing 348 people from prison early provoked remarkably little criticism. To date, President Obama has commuted more sentences than his seven predecessors combined; when the president granted clemency to 46 nonviolent drug offenders last July, many of whom were sentenced under laws that no longer exist, critics mostly complained that he hadn’t let more people go free…

Sometimes, though, getting out is the easy part. Behind each of those commuted sentences is a person whose life has been dramatically complicated by prison. The Washington Post wanted to know who those 46 people are and what life is like, in their words, a year after they learned they would go free. More than 40 Post reporters and editors worked to track down the individuals who received clemency last July and record their stories, which we present here in condensed form.

* One thing I didn’t focus on earlier when talking about the reforms Chief David Brown brought to the Dallas PD is his focus on transparency. Take a look at this article he wrote back in 2014 about how that played out after a white officer shot a black man in Dallas.

We try our best to be transparent — and I can tell you that not all cops like it. It does open us up to criticism, threats and exposure of every mistake we make. But it’s the right thing to do.

In the Dixon Circle shooting, I supported the officer’s actions, given the facts and evidence. A grand jury later cleared the officer.

That day I was heralded by police union bosses. A year later, I terminated two of our officers in separate shootings; a grand jury indicted both of them. Of course, I wasn’t as popular internally that time.

We have had subsequent shootings involving police, and we have continued to share as much information with the public as we can without jeopardizing the investigative process.

* Finally, its been a difficult couple of days. I thought I’d share one of the songs I turn to when I get discouraged.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.