Most politicians in government would keep their heads down on news that fewer jobs are being created in the economy.
But Donald Trump is not most politicians.
When news broke that US jobs growth slowed by more than expected in August, it was inevitable that the US president was going to send an “I told you so” message, aimed squarely at Jerome “Jay” Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank.
Mr Trump has been urging Mr Powell and the Fed to cut interest rates more aggressively for months now, mainly on Twitter, taking an increasingly personal tone.
So news that just 130,000 jobs were created last month, compared with the 158,000 Wall Street had been expecting, saw the president seize his opportunity.
He tweeted: “The Fed should lower rates. They were WAY too early to raise and way too late to cut – and big dose quantitative tightening [reversing its asset purchases or quantitative easing] didn’t exactly help either. Where did I find this guy Jerome? Oh well, you can’t win them all!”
Some will say that Mr Trump himself is as equally culpable as the Fed.
The trade war with China that he instigated by slapping tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods is clearly dragging on the US economy.
The jobs data bears that out, as does data published on Wednesday this week, which pointed to a contraction in the US manufacturing sector for the first time in three years.
More widely, the global economy appears to be slowing.
According to the latest figures, the UK and German economies both contracted during the second quarter of this year, with the latter being particularly hard-hit both by the trade war and also by the worldwide malaise in car-making.
Factory output in China, according to the latest numbers, was also lower than expected.
This current US economic expansion is the longest in history and, after more than a decade, some slowdown in growth – not to be confused with a contraction – was inevitable.
Those urging deeper interest rate cuts will also argue that below the headline jobs number, things may be even worse on the ground, as that figure of 130,000 was swollen by the temporary hiring of 25,000 officials to help begin work on the 2020 US census.
So the figures will be grist to the mill to Mr Trump as he steps up pressure on the Fed to cut rates by more than expected.
The Fed’s open markets committee, which sets rates, is due to meet on 17-18 September and had been widely expected to cut its main policy rate from the current range of 2-2.25% to 1.75-2%.
Some economists believe that, following these numbers, it may go for a half-point cut instead of a quarter point cut.
The US dollar fell on the foreign exchange markets on the news while US stock markets, anticipating cheaper borrowing costs, perked up.
Yet there was also plenty in the numbers to suggest that things may not be quite as disappointing as they may seem.
For example, August saw those Americans who have jobs working slightly longer hours than in July, good news given the survey data that suggests most people in work would be happy to be working more.
Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, were up by 0.4% on the previous month. That was the highest monthly increase since February this year.
And the number of jobs being created remains comfortable above the 100,000 per month needed to keep pace with the number of new workers entering the jobs market.
It is why the unemployment rate remained for the third time running at just 3.7% – a 50-year low.
Meanwhile, the ‘labour force participation’ rate – a measure of the number of Americans of working age who have a job or who are actively looking for one – rose from 63% in July to 63.2%, which is an encouraging sign.
And bear in mind, also, that towards the end of August a number of seasonal workers hired on temporary basis for the summer will have stopped working.
More than 10,000 jobs were shed in the retail sector, for example, during the month. Only so much can be read into one month’s figures.
So, while it is likely that the Fed will still cut interest rates later this month by a quarter point, the half-point or more that Mr Trump craves may not be forthcoming.
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