Today the April unemployment report is released. It probably will be read more closely in the lobbying offices on K Street than in the trading pits on Wall Street.
Americans vote with their pocketbooks. For all the recent talk about Mitt Romney’s roof transportation of a family pet years ago, President Obama eating dog meat in the distant past, and other silly issues, the economy is what most ordinary people really care about. Contrived issues like prior treatment of dogs have no impact on everyday American life — but a shrinking economy, or a robust one, reaches every kitchen table in every home. We don’t need to be instructed by the media elites about the importance of the economy; we see it every day in unemployed or underemployed friends and struggling local businesses.
That’s why today’s report is significant. Unfortunately, our economy seems to be teetering on the brink. After marginal job growth over the holiday season, March’s jobs report was poor. More and more people seem to be giving up on finding a job — so much so that the government doesn’t even bother to count them in calculating unemployment statistics. If another bad report comes out, it probably means that our economy is mired in the mud and we’re in for more hard times.
Political campaigns focus on “messaging” and packaging their candidates and working to spin everything in their favor. Economic performance, however, doesn’t need messaging or packaging, and can’t really be spun. It’s a uniquely powerful political force, beyond the control of the spinmeisters and talking heads — and that’s why the campaigns will be carefully scrutinizing today’s report.