The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

Today’s Unemployment Numbers in Context

by Caitlin Peartree

By David Winston and Myra Miller

Today’s jobs report showed the unemployment rate having dropped to 8.4%, which is significantly lower than the projected expectation of 9.8%. Throughout the Democratic National Convention in August, there was a significant emphasis on the Obama-Biden recovery. 

The Obama White House declared that the summer of 2010 would be the “summer of recovery.” As David Axelrod said in June 2010, “This summer will be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with thousands of highly-visible road, bridge, water and other infrastructure projects breaking ground across the country, giving the American people a first-hand look at the Recovery Act in their own backyards and making it crystal clear what the cost would have been of doing nothing.” Prior to the passage of the economic stimulus package in February 2009, leading Democratic economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein believed that it would keep unemployment under 8%. However, as shown in the chart below, President Obama had 30 consecutive months of 9% or greater unemployment from April 2009 through September 2011.

Despite an unprecedented economic shutdown during the past six months, today’s report is already lower than any unemployment rate during that 30 month period.