Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, is “concerned” about the August employment figures that will be released tomorrow as Democrats leave Charlotte. They are concluding their three-day convention to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term.
A big rise in the jobless rate or a significant drop in employment would be political fodder for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s critique of President Obama’s performance. Such negative news may dampen any post-convention bounce in polls that Obama might otherwise achieve.
Still, Durbin says he doesn’t think tomorrow’s employment numbers “will decide the election.” And “more likely” the report of job growth “will be modest as most of them have been recently,” the Illinois lawmaker told reporters after a Bloomberg/Peterson Foundation Breakfast in Charlotte.
If August job growth “is on the plus side of the ledger, it helps,” Durbin said.
After tomorrow, the Labor Department will issue two more reports on the previous month’s employment and the nationwide jobless rate before the Nov. 6 presidential election. The last jobs report, detailing the employment situation in October, will be issued Nov. 2, four days before Americans go to the polls to elect a new president.
Payrolls probably grew at a slower pace last month and the unemployment rate exceeded 8 percent for a 43rd month, according to a Bloomberg survey of 71 economists. The projected decline reflects a cooling in demand, the economists said. The median forecast for employment growth was 125,000 new jobs in August, following a 163,000 gain in July. The economists forecast that the jobless rate held at 8.3 percent.
Democrats received one bit of bright economic news today. Fewer Americans than forecast applied for unemployment benefits last week. Jobless claims decreased by 12,000 to 365,000 in the week that ended Sept. 1, the Labor Department said.