A number of economists are breaking down the president's prospects according to monthly job growth between now and November. If the number is more than 200,000, the thinking goes, he's almost a lock to be reelected. Between 180,000 and 200,000 and his chances are still quite good. Between 100,000 and 175,000 and the race is likely to be close. Anything under 100,000 and Obama is quite vulnerable. Based on forecasts from Moody's Analytics, the NYT is keeping a weekly track of job growth between now and the election - and the latest estimate is 184,000, up from 183,000 a week ago. This seems like a decent gauge, although it doesn't factor unexpected developments, such as a big increase in the price of gasoline or a stock market crash. From the Moody's report:
It appears the recent soft patch in the U.S. economy was just that and nothing worse. Real GDP is on track to grow at an annualized pace of 2% to 2.5% this quarter and the labor market took a small step forward in May. We now expect nonfarm payrolls to show a gain of 175,000 jobs between April and May, an improvement on the 170,000 forecast last week, but still shy of 197,000 monthly average pace of the past six months. Business confidence is holding up and the hiring details in recent surveys have been strong. Though May's job gains will not be impressive, they will be enough to push the unemployment rate lower.
The jobless rate is projected to run 7.9 percent in October, down from the current 8.1 percent.