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Republicans Are Ignoring Positive Economic Signs at Their Own Peril

Getty Images/Mark Wilson

Thursday’s jobs report was unequivocally good news. The economy added 288,000 jobs in June, the labor force increased, and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent. Long-term unemployment continued to fall and wages grew at a 2 percent year-over-year rate. It’s not quite a jobs boom—monthly numbers can be noisy—but it’s a very positive sign.

Except, Republicans can’t quite seem to admit that the economy could be kicking into second gear. As Talking Points Memo Sahil Kapur noted on Twitter, House Speaker John Boehner’s statement on the jobs report says absolutely nothing about the jobs report. Instead, he criticizes President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats for failing to pass GOP legislation.

Or consider Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’ statement. He at least touches on the positive report with his opening line, saying, “We’re glad to see some Americans found work last month.” He then spends 270 words ripping into the president for his supposed failed policies and imploring Americans to give Republicans a Senate majority in November.

Fox News, for its part, buried the news on its homepage, as Politico’s Dylan Byers noted.

It’s not surprising that Republican leaders and campaign committees would spin the positive report as a negative for the president and Democrats. This is politics, after all. But they ignore the actual data at their own peril. The political science literature is conclusive that an improving economy, not the static state of it, helps incumbents. The effect is stronger for presidential candidates, but it still makes a difference. Maybe Republicans know this and are just trying to pretend it’s not the case. Or maybe they’ve convinced themselves that the data really doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t be the first time.

UPDATE: Fox News actually covered the jobs report worse on air than online. They spend about 30 seconds on the report, noting that the economy gained 288,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, before saying that the "real unemployment rate" is 12.1 percent. That is a broader measure of unemployment—known as the U-6 measure—which also includes part-time workers and discouraged workers. Fox did not provide that context. Here's the full clip:

(h/t Business Insider)