George Graham

Against all Odds, the Obama Economy Fights Back

You may have read the AP report this morning that shows a surprising turnaround in America’s economy. Here’s an excerpt in case you missed it:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A burst of hiring in December pushed the U.S. unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly three years, giving the economy a boost at the end of 2011.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added a net 200,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, the lowest since February 2009. The rate has dropped for four straight months.

The hiring gains cap a six-month stretch in which the economy generated 100,000 jobs or more in each month. That hasn’t happened since April 2006.

The steady drop is a positive sign for President Barack Obama, who is bound to face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any sitting president since World War II. Unemployment was 7.8 percent when Obama took office in January 2009.

Still, the level may matter less to his re-election chances if the rate continues to fall. History suggests that presidents’ re-election prospects hinge less on the unemployment rate itself than on the rate’s direction during the year or two before Election Day.

It’s an amazing accomplishment.

When I think of the obstructionism, the intransigence, the outright sabotage of the president’s efforts, the opening passage from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem”Sir Galahad” comes to mind:

My good blade carves the casques of men,
   My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
   Because my heart is pure.

Logically, there is no way America’s economy could withstand the assaults of the corporate cabal and its representatives in Washington. With the Republicans in the Senate using the filibuster to block every positive move and the Tea Party zealots in the House trying to destroy the economy as a tactic to defeat the president, the odds seemed overwhelming.

I have to assume that the corporate caliphs have been outflanked. They have hoarded their obscene profits, refusing to hire for as long as they could. Now, they can’t hold out any longer; the demands of the market have forced their hand.

When I came across the AP story, I thought at first that it would just reflect the usual retail job growth during the holiday season, but that was not the case.

AP revealed that:

The December report painted a picture of a broadly improving job market. Average hourly pay rose, providing consumers with more income to spend. The average work week lengthened, a sign that business is picking up and companies may soon need more workers. And hiring was strong across almost all major industries.

Manufacturing added 23,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing added 50,000 jobs. Retailers added 28,000 jobs. Even the beleaguered construction industry added 17,000 workers.

A more robust hiring market coincides with other positive data that show the economy ended the year with some momentum.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits have fallen to levels last seen more than three years ago. Holiday sales were solid. And November and December were the strongest months of 2011 for U.S. auto sales.

Did you notice that manufacturing added jobs?

Do you see the possibility of Divine Intervention here?

I do.

Click here to read the AP report.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for