- The Washington Times - Friday, May 7, 2004

What a difference two months make. Just ask John Kerry. On March 5, three days after he effectively captured the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Mr. Kerry, commenting on the February employment report showing a creation of a minuscule 21,000 jobs, declared: “At this rate the Bush administration won’t create its first job for more than 10 years. Americans have a clear choice in this election. They can either suffer with more and more job losses that rip the heart out or economy. Or they can give George Bush a new job in November and start putting America back to work.”

Two months later, on May 3, Mr. Kerry was singing a different tune, as blogger Glenn Reynolds has astutely noted. Anticipating the consensus estimate of 150,000 net new jobs for April, Mr. Kerry said, “I think we’ll probably have a pretty good job-market [report for April] and the next four or five months. That’s great.”

As it happens, April saw the creation of 288,000 jobs, nearly double what economists expected. April’s report also revised upward March’s job-creation performance from 308,000 to 337,000, and, for the second month in a row, February’s numbers were adjusted upward as well. February’s job-creation numbers are now four times the level revealed the day Mr. Kerry bitterly attacked the Bush administration about “more and more job losses that rip the heart out” of the economy. Far more important, however, is the fact that since Mr. Kerry made that comment, the cumulative increase in jobs for March and April has been 625,000, the fastest two-month pace in four years.

For the first four months of 2004, the economy has created 867,000 jobs. Now, a four-month trend does not constitute a year. But if a comparable number of jobs are generated over the balance of the year, two observations are in order. First, President Bush, who inherited a recession less than two months after his inauguration, will not have presided over an economy that has lost jobs. Second, total job creation for 2004 would exceed 2.6 million. That happens to be the job forecast of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, which is chaired by N. Gregory Mankiw. Recall that Mr. Mankiw became the object of much derision early this year when the initially reported job numbers were so poor. Today most economists believe that the labor market has finally turned the corner. If the continues, we will happily be among the first to arrive at Mr. Mankiw’s table for our plate of crow.

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