The Risk of Overselling Recovery


I don’t know whether the recession is “over” or not, but even if it is I agree with Steve Clemons that it seems risky for the administration to get too invested in selling an upbeat narrative about the economic situation. There’s an extremely strong possibility that the decline in measured unemployment reported yesterday is the result of measurement error. The actual number of jobs went down after all, and even the U6 measure of “discouraged workers” didn’t go up. These surveys are imperfect tools, and we’re talking about a very slight decline that possibly didn’t happen. Ten percent unemployment is still a real possibility and there will be pressure to withdraw expansive economic policies more quickly than is wise.

Most of all, while I think you do need to try to convince the public that your health care plan is a good idea, trying to argue with people about the state of economic conditions seems like a waste of time. If people feel that things are getting better, they’ll base that conclusion on what they’re seeing in their lives and their communities.