— Job losses slowed to 247,000, their lowest total since a year ago, beating expectations by roughly 100,000.
— The unemployment rate actually *declined* to 9.4 percent from 9.5
— May and June job loss estimates have been revised *downward*.
— Hourly earnings improved.
— The average workweek lengthened, particularly in manufacturing.
— The manufacturing sector added jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
— The NASDAQ will open today about 33 percent higher than when Obama took office.
These numbers do not point toward a “good” economy. Some of them, like the decline in the unemployment rate, are even a bit misleading, since some of that has occurred because a lot of dispirited job seekers have given up on looking for work.
But they do speak unambiguously toward an economy which has almost certainly bottomed out and has probably begun to improve. It is more likely to be a slow recovery than a fast one, especially in employment, but this is arguably the best news that Obama has had since taking office.
I said two weeks ago that if the job loss number declined to 250,000 or so, it would be a game-changer. I was not making a prediction about what the employment numbers would look like. I was merely saying that if this occurred, it would probably be enough to change the tenor of the debate in Washington. Republicans have to be very careful now about not overplaying their hand on health care.