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Job Numbers

The August job numbers will be released Friday morning. If the payroll survey shows that over 100,000 jobs were added in August, then Bush will be able to say that the economy is still on track and it will be very hard for Kerry to make any political hay on the economy. If job growth is much smaller than 100,000, then Kerry will be able to say that Bush has mismanaged the economy. Anything over 200,000 is a home run for a Bush. Anything less than 50,000 (or a drop) will be a big help for Kerry.

I say all of that in the context of spin and political posturing. I’ve noticed that Washington seems cooler this summer than in summers past. Must be due to Bush’s policy to reduce global warming. That seems ludicrous. It is almost as ludicrous to parse the job numbers of August for blame or credit. Or the job numbers for the year, even. Yet that is the way the game is played.

The July numbers showed anemic job growth for the month of 32,000. That was the payroll survey. The household survey showed a sizzling 600,000 jobs were created in July. One of those numbers is inaccurately reflecting the health of the economy. So which is it? The weird thing is that it’s not easy to find out which one is closer to the truth. Look around you. How is the economy doing? You can’t tell. There’s no personal observation that would help you decide which one is more representative. So we base our assessments on a statistical survery that is sure to be revised. This is almost as absurd as judging Bush’s environmental record on today’s temperature. But come, Friday, such judging of economic performance will be all over the airwaves.