The Washington Post with a point that, in our view, hasn't been made enough in recent months:
For six straight months, the U.S. economy has added more than 200,000 jobs, according to government data released Friday morning, the longest streak since the mid-'90s. [Pols emphasis]
The Labor Department reported 209,000 net new jobs were created in July, though the unemployment rate edged up slightly to 6.2 percent as more workers joined the labor force. The report was the latest in a string of upbeat data suggesting the country’s economic recovery has shifted into the next gear.
Industries with the strongest hiring were professional and business services, as well as manufacturing and construction. That dovetailed with a private estimate of job growth earlier this week indicating broad-based improvement in the labor market. That analysis, by human resources firm ADP, showed both larger corporations and smaller businesses were adding workers.
“There was some meat on the bones," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. "This wasn’t just temporary hires.”
By no means are economic conditions perfect, if they ever are in a free market economy–there are still lots of underemployed workers, and there are still several million long-term "structurally unemployed" Americans who haven't found a way forward in the new economy. A big stock selloff last week caused in part by foreign policy crises reminds us that our prosperity doesn't exist in a vacuum. But it's worth acknowledging that the last six months of 200,000+ per month job growth is the longest stretch of growth that high since 1997–the fabled Clinton years, which so many Americans look back on nostalgically as the last great economic boom time.
So why aren't we hearing more about the economy showing not just "recovery," but real strength for the first time since the Great Recession? That's simple: it's an election year. To admit that the economy is turning bullish would be to admit things that Republicans simply cannot admit right now. It would mean admitting that Obamacare did not plunge the economy into a new dark age after all. It would mean admitting that Obama's "mountain of new regulations" are not choking the life out of American business.
This development also could really screw up the media's pre-written narrative about the upcoming elections–you know, the one where Democrats take a beating because, well, obviously! For all of these reasons, this is not a growing economy that anyone should feel good about…until the second week of November. Of course, if Republicans do triumph in this year's midterms, the economic growth now underway and fully expected to continue through the end of the year and beyond will suddenly have enormous political import.
As always, we would welcome the most accurate narrative, sooner rather than later. Surprise us.