Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nate Silver's death knell for Obama's jobs measures

One nugget in Nate Silver's exhaustive statistical analysis of the degree to which each of  a broad range of economic variables have affected presidential elections since 1948 makes it pretty clear why Republicans are going to block almost every job-producing measure put forward by President Obama. It's this (charts omitted):
Another poorly performing variable is the unemployment rate. It has had essentially no relationship to election results at all.

However, while the unemployment rate had told us very little, the rate of change in the jobs market has been fairly meaningful. Here, for instance, is a comparison of election results to the rate of payroll jobs growth — the variable you often see highlighted when the government releases its jobs report on the first Friday of each month.
This variable has had an r-squared of .44 — a fair amount better than G.D.P. or disposable income. Thus, while the raw rate of unemployment has been one of the least useful variables for forecasting election results, the rate of job growth during the election year (whether measured by this variable or by closely-related ones like the net change in the unemployment rate or the employment-to-population ratio) has held up pretty well. So pay attention to those employment reports, as common sense would dictate.
Republicans are not going let Obama -- or the country -- off the mat by passing any measure likely to boost job growth. It's that simple.

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