1. It’s Friday, August 4, 2017.
2. It’s Barack Obama’s 56th birthday. Has any President been as missed six months out of office as this guy?
3. My former CNNMoney colleague Paul La Monica – one of business journalism’s most accomplished tweeters – always offers this thought the day before the monthly jobs report: We all should be rooting for good numbers, no matter what our political persuasion.
Paul’s absolutely right. All Americans should want their countrymen and women employed – if that’s what they want. Rooting against the employment figures is like rooting against our military – pretty damn close to treasonous.
So despite the fact that I loathe Trump, and realize that he’ll take credit, I’m very pleased with today’s July labor report. A gain of 209,000 jobs, which is not just a plus but a solid one. And a decline in the unemployment rate to 4.3% from 4.4% in June.
4. Two sectors of the economy stick out in this report.
One is that people must be eating out a lot.
Employment in food service and what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “drinking places” – question: Does Jamba Juice count? – rose by a solid 53,000 jobs. In the past year, the industry has added 313,000 jobs.
That’s a curious thing. Are you eating out more? Are you hanging out at bars more?
Everywhere I look, I see restaurants, diners and the like closing. Now this might just be a local phenomenon – for a Burger King closing in New City, New York, a Sonic might be going up in the Washington area.
But people tend to eat out more when they’re feeling prosperous. So that’s a good sign for the economy – although I know some grumpy types that see a boon in this as a sign that a fall is coming. Let’s hope not – at least not any time soon.
The second sector that stands out is health care. An additional 39,000 jobs were added in this industry last month, bringing the one-year total to 327,000.
This seems a sign that whatever we’re doing in health care right now is pretty good for the economy. More people are using health care services, which means more people are working in health care services.
5. So why the hell would anyone want to mess with that?
A drastic change in health care – let’s say, repealing Obamacare – would tamper with what’s become a growing part of the economy.
Not only has Obamacare helped make America healthier, it has helped make America more prosperous – completely contrary to the screaming that the far right did when the law was enacted in 2009.
It must drive Republicans crazy that this law worked. And it just proves that Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain were looking out for the best interests of the party as well as the country when they voted against the so-called skinny repeal measure last week.
6. Which brings us back to Barack Obama.
I’ll bet Trumpsters believe Obama is jealous of today’s numbers. Since Trump took office, slightly more than 1 million jobs have been created.
Obama ain’t jealous. Obama is a big reason those numbers are so good. Jobs have grown for 82 months in a row, a streak that began after the Obama stimulus helped right the economy following the financial crisis.
If anything, today’s jobs number is Obama’s birthday present. It’s gorgeous. And we should all celebrate.
Happy birthday, Mr. President.