The Unemployment Rate Is Dead

Here’s what you need to know…

Last Friday’s jobs report “landed with a thud.” Employers only added 38,000 jobs last month, while March and April numbers were revised down by a total of 59,000 jobs. The Obama administration quickly tried to point out the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in May, its lowest level since November 2007.

But as Delve’s Executive Vice President Matt Moon writes in a new Medium post, as a political talking point, and maybe even as an economic statistic, “The unemployment rate is dead.”

  • Our “New Normal”: With the decline in the unemployment rate “owed almost entirely to 458,0000 people leaving the labor force,” it’s dead as a political statistic because it is no longer a meaningful indicator of how people are doing economically. In this “new normal,” it can’t be used in the vacuum of a campaign talking point and it can’t be divorced from other economic indicators as well as voters’ wavering confidence in America’s future.
  • How Does This Affect The Election? Any Democrat that attaches their political hopes to Obama’s economic record and using the “improving” unemployment situation to their advantage will have a very difficult case to make. It has left Hillary Clinton and Democrats down ballot in a position where there is no clear message on how to achieve economic prosperity.
  • Clinton’s Conundrum: Clinton has the impossible mission of courting both “Bernie or Bust” voters and ticket-splitting independents, both of whom are unhappy with the economy. If she tacks towards the middle to gain those ticket-splitters, she will head into November with a deeply divided Democratic electorate. If she embraces Sanders’s left-wing economic populism, she risks losing voters that will decide this election.

Read Matt’s Medium post here.

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Mark Your Calendars

Tuesday, June 14: District of Columbia Democratic Primary