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The October jobs report was perfect for Hillary Clinton

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

The October jobs report was fine at first glance and solid upon close inspection.

And that’s great news for Hillary Clinton.

In October, the economy added 161,000 jobs, which was a bit below the 173,000 economists expected. The unemployment rate fell to 4.9% from 5%, as expected.

Average hourly earnings, which is closely tracked by the Federal Reserve for signs of inflation pressures, rose 2.8% over the prior year, the biggest jump since the financial crisis.

Top-line job gains have been solid during the last several years, but many have been waiting for signs of meaningful wage growth to emerge. Friday’s report is evidence that wage gains are coming along.


As a Democrat, Clinton benefits from continued positive news out of the US economy given that voters and markets likely see her administration continuing the economic policies of President Obama.

And while economic growth as measured by GDP has been middling at about 2%, the labor market has been notably strong during Obama’s time in office.

During Obama’s tenure, the US economy has added about 10 million jobs. Over the last three months, the US economy has added an average of 176,000 jobs; average monthly job gains in 2016 have averaged 181,000. In 2015, the economy added an average of 229,000 jobs per month.

The last generation of presidential elections also shows that nothing pushes voters towards change like bad economic news.

Looking at recent electoral history, the White House changed party control in 2008, 2000, 1992, and 1980, with each election coming during or just after a recession or stock market bust. In 2016, Republican nominee Donald Trump won’t be able to lean on either a recession or market crash.

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on Nov. 2, 2016, in Pensacola, Fla. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Trump has long-argued that the US economy is terrible, that his administration will bring jobs back to America, and that we are in a “big, fat, ugly bubble.” And in a statement out Friday, the Trump campaign called the October jobs report “disastrous,” adding that the report, “underscores the total failures of the Obama-Clinton economy that delivers only for donors and special interests and robs working families.”

Trump’s surprise success in the Republican primary makes clear that this message resonates deeply with some voters.

But a broad-based, obvious decline in the US economy is a more specious argument for Trump or other Republicans to make.

And Friday’s jobs report makes that case even tougher.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance.

Read more from Myles here, and follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland.