Friday, December 8, 2023

Good US jobs report keeps things moving ahead. We gotta keep telling this truth, and keep it going

It’s another Jobs Friday here in America, so what do we have?

Seems pretty good to me, especially when I see that the unemployment rate dropped for the “good reason” – more people entered the labor force in November (+532,000), and even more found jobs (+747,000). This means that the overall % of Americans working (under the Employment-Population Ratio metric) is at a new post-COVID high.

That’s pretty good considering there are a lot of Boomers that have hit retirement age between 2019 and 2023, which would “naturally” reduce this number. And indeed, a higher percentage of people between the ages of 25-54 are working now (80.7%) than were at the start of 2020 (80.6%).

Later in the morning, there was another positive sign, as it seems that the persistent negativity that many Americans have had over the economy may be finally starting to fade.

Consumer fears over inflation tumbled in December amid declining energy prices and as the impact of interest rate hikes take hold.

In the latest University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey released Friday, the one-year outlook for the inflation rate slid to 3.1%, down sharply from 4.5% in November and the lowest since March 2021. The five-year outlook also moved lower, down to 2.8% from 3.2% the previous month….

Consumer optimism also jumped higher in December. The University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment index rose more than 8 points to 69.4, tied for the best level since July. The current conditions index registered a reading of 74, up nearly 6 points, while the expectations index surged almost 10 points to 66.4.
It’s still not at the levels we had pre-COVID, but that’s mostly because MAGAs refuse to accept the real world and just assume things are worse because their guy isn’t in power.

After those reports, some of the spin from the Wall Street media is that this news wasn’t so great if you wanted to see the Fed start cutting interest rates sooner than later. And indeed, after 6 weeks of declining longer-term yields, they had a bit of a reversal today.
Treasury yields jumped Friday after the November jobs report showed the unemployment rate unexpectedly fall, suggesting continued tightness in the labor market despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool the economy.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was up by 9 basis points at 4.22% as it recovered some losses made earlier in the week when it dipped as low as 4.14%. Similar levels were last seen in early September.

The 2-year Treasury was last more than 11 basis points higher at 4.692%.
But those figures are still 50-75 basis points below where they peaked in mid-October, and I think they should stay down, because I don't think the outlook is much different than it was before Friday’s jobs report.

So if things didn’t really change much, why did sentiment go up by so much in November? I hope it’s because the reality that the economy is really good is finally starting to get through the Bubble of BS that is regularly pumped out by Faux News and other GOPper-ganda on a daily basis.

Chris Hayes had an excellent segment (last night) which illustrated how the Biden Administration has handled a series of economic challenges, and we've come out the other side in good shape. But the RW messaging machine tried to convince everyday Americans that the country was either headed to or in a recession (which hasn't happened), and by hammering on rises in prices of products like eggs and gasoline, to try to anger people and convince them that inflation was still an economic headwind (it really hasn’t been for 18 months).

People may be annoyed that interest rates are higher than they have been in 20 years, given how it adds expenses to borrowing and is an impediment if they haven’t been lucky enough to have bought a home or car before 2022. And I agree that they shouldn't be as high as they are (due to Republican Jerome Powell and other central bankers who are still stuck in the 1970s). But there also are a lot more people working than they were 4 years ago, they’re making more money in doing so, and there isn’t that much out there to slow that down as we head into 2024.

We just gotta keep telling the truth about where things are today, and learn the lessons of the last 4 years of economic policy – direct government investment and supports works when it comes to getting people back to work and in making them feel more secure about their futures. And when we back off on that investment and support, then the problems and concerns kick in (like when Joe Manchin and all Senate Republicans tanked the Child Tax Credit in late 2021).

So don’t take the foot off the gas and stop more of the progress that has been made in the 2020s. As part of their 2024 strategy, Dems should call out the oligarchs who are clearly unhappy that the typical American worker now has options in a full-employment economy, and that the "special few" can’t extract even more than the already-excessive profits and productivity gains that they are getting. What we have now is a better situation than we had from 2001-2019, and we can’t afford to go back to that losing way.

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