October Numbers Tell the Story of an American Comeback

The October jobs report is out, and not only did the economy exceed expectations by adding 184,000 private sector jobs last month, the numbers for August and September were also revised up by 84,000. The unemployment rate inched up to 7.9%, but that is because with a lot of hopeful signs for the economy, more than a half a million new people entered the job market. This makes for 5.4 million new private sector jobs since the end of the Bush recession and the beginning of the Obama recovery 32 months ago. In the last year alone, the economy added 2.1 million jobs.

But what are these good signs, other than the employment reports themselves? Well, the jobs report from October should not be a big surprise (except perhaps in the Republican bubble world), when you look at some leading indicators of economic health, pointing to us getting back to pre-Great Recession levels.

Consumer confidence is at its highest point in almost five years. Consumer confidence, you know, that thing that is needed to make consumers spend more money, thereby driving up demand of products and services, thereby driving businesses to produce more, and therefore, hire more people. It's consumers, not investors, that create jobs in this economy.

Oh, but consumer confidence is just a number, how do you know it actually translates into more consumer spending?
Major chains posted a 2.7% increase in retail sales in October compared with the same month a year earlier, on par with analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters' tally of 18 retailers. Excluding drugstores, however, retail sales are up 4.7%, exceeding expectations of 4.3%.
Tube socks and laptops aren't the only things selling, either. So are big ticket items, like cars - despite Mitt Romney's pathetic attempt to talk down and lie about the American auto industry.
Major automakers are reporting sales increases for October despite losing three days of sales to the punishing rain and wind from Superstorm Sandy.

Toyota said its sales rose almost 16 percent for the month, while Chrysler sales were up 10 percent. General Motors sales rose 5 percent, and Ford rose only slightly.

The results show that Americans continue to buy new cars and trucks at a strong pace. Chrysler predicted an annual sales rate of 14.7 million for the U.S. industry in October, making it one of the year's strongest months. Auto sales ran at an annual rate of 14.3 million through September.
Despite the Republicans' insistence that it isn't and despite their best efforts to see that it doesn't, the economy is in fact picking up pace
In a possible boost for Obama, government and private sources churned out a spate of encouraging snapshots on the economy, long the dominant issue in the race. Reports on home prices, worker productivity, auto sales, construction spending, manufacturing and retail sales suggested the recovery was picking up its pace, and a measurement of consumer confidence rose to its highest level since February of 2008, nearly five years ago.
Indeed, home prices are stabilizing. New home starts jumped 15% in October to a four-year high.

The American economy is coming back. For this comeback, we have a president to thank: President Obama. It is difficult to compare the devastation caused by Sandy to anything else, but I think I can be forgiven for making this analogy: the economy was hit by the worst calamity since the 1930s (and it would have been worse than the Great Depression were it not for the post-Great Depression social safety nets of Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicaid and Medicare), after a decade of Republican rule. When President Obama came to office, he concentrated on a rescue operation for the economy - in which he was helped by Congressional Democrats, while Congressional Republicans swore a blood oath to destroy the economy further for political gain.

Fighting against not just the economic devastation but also against an entire political party willingly inflicting more damage wherever they could, President Obama never gave up. He put together the largest economic stimulus package in history, rescued the American auto industry single-handedly (saving a million jobs), efficiently managed the financial rescue, and got help where it was most needed: extending unemployment benefits and COBRA. Then he set about rebuilding the system in which we can build sustained growth rather than boom and bust cycles. He passed health care reform, for the first time in history making affordable health care a right. He passed historic Wall Street Reform and created the nation's first independent agency charged solely with protecting the interests of consumers.

Even after the Republicans took over the House in 2011, the President never stopped fighting for America's workers, for our middle class. He instituted the first tax relief for the working poor in the form of a payroll tax cut, further extended unemployment benefits, invested in new energy technologies, and made sure that the middle class did not have to face a tax increase on top of everything else we were dealing with.

If nothing else, by any objective measure, this president has earned - earned - our gratitude. No, he's earned more than that. He has earned another four years. He has earned our vote.

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