Why Better Employment Numbers Can’t Save Democrats

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 2 2014 5:50 PM

Why Better Employment Numbers Can’t Save Democrats

Keith Hall, Commissioner of the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Counter of the Unemployed

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Aaron Blake sees at least a couple of glimmering hope-rays in today's unemployment numbers.

[F]or a Democratic Party in search of some (or really ANY) motivation for its base, Friday's jobs report helps. And, upon closer examination, it might help even more than the national numbers suggest. That's because the unemployment picture in the states holding key Senate races is actually quite a bit better for Democrats than the national picture.

It certainly sounds right, and Democrats would be worse off if the economy were flatlining—this would validate more of what Republicans say about the Affordable Care Act. But I'd caution Democrats to remember how the employment situation looked in 2006, right as the party won the House and Senate for the first time in 14 years. This is the unemployment rate chart from the BLS.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 5.27.23 PM

The unemployment rate was not just low—it fell from 4.8 percent in the winter before the election to 4.4 percent right in the final stretch.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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