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  • A boost on jobs

    New figures show unemployment in America at its lowest level for five years, giving Republicans something to cheer at last


    ONE imagines that Republican politicians and staffers have been doing a lot of praying over the past few weeks, as polls suggest it is all-but-certain that the party will lose control of at least one house of Congress in the pending mid-term elections. So new jobs figures released on Friday November 3rd must seem to be some sort of divine response. America’s Bureau of Labour Statistics now suggests that unemployment has dropped to 4.4%, the lowest level in five years—and better than all but the last two bubbly years of the Clinton administration, to which campaigning Democrats have often implicitly offered a return.

    The headline unemployment figure has been good for a while, of course. But many economists have suggested that this conceals softness in the labour market. Wages have been stagnant since George Bush took office, and labour-force participation is still a full percentage point below the levels enjoyed under Bill Clinton. Critics of Mr Bush and his economic policies have been arguing in the run-up to the election that the strong economy is a myth, with ordinary Americans sinking into misery while the lucky rich snatch all the gains from robust growth.

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