JOBS FIGURES STILL GRIM – AT 9:11 A.M. ET: Despite the AP's attempt to put a positive spin on it in its lead, jobs figures just released are still grim:
WASHINGTON -- Fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week, an encouraging sign the job market may be slowly improving.
Weekly applications dropped 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 405,000, the Labor Department said, the lowest level in almost three months.
The government said the total was increased by 11,500 state workers from Minnesota, who have filed applications because of that state's government shutdown.
Even with last week's decline, applications have now topped 400,000 for 14 weeks, evidence that the job market has weakened since earlier this year.
Took four paragraphs to get to that point. Any number over 400,000 is considered very bad.
The economy added only 18,000 net jobs in June, the second straight month of dismal hiring. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent, the highest this year. That's far below the average job gains of 215,000 per month in the February-April period.
COMMENT: And yet, Obama's approval numbers are still hovering in the mid-forties, not good, but not terrible. He has a built-in constituency. The economy will probably determine the results of next year's election, but expect the Dems to run an ugly campaign to whip up the base and take attention away from the Obama record, to the degree that there is one.
July 14, 2011