Administration Already on Defense Over February Unemployment
Although unemployment numbers for the month of February won’t be out until Friday, the administration is already on the political defensive — never a good sign. In an interview on CNBC, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers announced that blizzards will “distort” unemployment statistics. “It’s going to be very important,” he said, “to look past whatever the next figures are to gauge the underlying trends.”
He added: “In past blizzards, those statistics have been distorted by 100,000 to 200,000 jobs.”
What Summers meant to say was that the additional 100,000-200,000 people who, indeed, are unemployed due to the winter storms might well end up re-employed before too long. Many of those left jobless because of the storms are employed in the construction industry, which will pick up as weather conditions improve, and others were left unemployed when stores or restaurants closed during the storms, which impeded hiring.
However, with long-term unemployment at its highest level since the Great Depression and new statistics out showing that fully 40 percent of those collecting unemployment have been doing so for at least six months (let alone Jim Bunning’s one-man blockade of unemployment benefits for those very Americans), this administration ought to be smarter about focusing on the individuals facing job losses and unemployment. After all, the unemployed currently have a more favorable view of President Obama than those who have jobs — so long as Larry Summers can keep his foot out of his mouth.