The good economic news for Obama keeps coming. Yesterday’s report of 200,000 new jobs in December means payroll growth in the U.S. beat consensus forecasts by 45,000. At the same time, as the economy kicked off 2012, the unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly to 8.5%, its lowest level in almost three years. The 200,000-job increase did follow a November gain revised down to 100,000, smaller than estimated last month. Still, in another positive development, averages rose of both hours worked and weekly earnings, measurements that indicate future job growth.
Below is how, with 9 months left, Obama is doing gauged against his two most important employment targets: the unemployment rate and total number of jobs when he took over in January 2009. For the first time since we began charting the gap between current totals and the targets, it seems possible Obama may actually reach at least one. While December’s total of 200,000 jobs created may not repeat itself nine more times in succession, job creation could indeed theoretically average 200,000 (actually, only 185,000) a month over that same period.