William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS – AT 9:17 A.M. ET:  Jobless claims have taken a dramatic drop, good news for the economy, and better news for the Obama administration.

There has been general improvement in the jobs market in recent months.  If it continues, it will tilt the election heavily in Obama's favor.  You may be sure the mainstream media will amplify this news.

If Romney is the GOP nominee, as seems likely, his very reason for being that nominee – that he can improve the economy – will take a huge hit if the economy starts rolling.  I mean, what are his other qualifications?

But, of course, the good news may not continue.   From Bloomberg: 

Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, easing concern that post-holiday firings were on the rise.

Jobless claims plunged by 50,000 to 352,000 in the week ended Jan. 14, the lowest level since April 2008, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 41 economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected 384,000. A Labor Department spokesman said the decrease reflected the usual volatility seen during this time of year.

Companies are slowing the pace of firings and beginning to step up the pace of hiring even as a slump in Europe spurred by a default crisis may limit U.S. growth. The improvement may be a sign that companies are looking to expand their workforces as sales climb.

COMMENT:  People will have to feel the improvement in their local communities before they're convinced.  And they'll have to see it reflected in bigger paychecks and steadier employment.  But the news this week is positive.

January 19, 2012