The American economy added 162,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department reported Friday, while the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent.
While the numbers got a lift from the government’s hiring of 48,000 census workers, private employers added 123,000 jobs in the month.
The fact that just under a third of the new jobs created this month are temporary census workers is a bit of a damper on the news, but, even without them, last month's job numbers are still a serious improvement.
While political reporting is often focused on tracking polls, fund-raising, and public scandals, the election is often decided by more important macro factors, like the health of the economy.
A new CNN poll shows that Republicans have a slight edge over Democrats with who the American people think would do a better job with the economy (48% Republican, 45% Democrats). It also has Republicans with a four-point edge on the generic ballot. These are bad numbers for Democrats, but if the economy starts to turn around, and unemployment starts to noticeably decline, don't be surprised if Democrats polling numbers quickly rise. Jobs and the economy are by far the most important issues for most Americans right now. Barring some unforeseen event, the issue of jobs should play a dominant role in November.
While many people will be following the generic ballot tracking polls to try to determine how many seats Democrats are likely to lose in November, it is the monthly jobs report that might end up the best indicator. Something Democrats in Congress should keep in mind. Because, even as good as last month's numbers were compared to the past three years, we will still need much stronger jobs growth if we really want to bring down unemployment.