Trader Michael Liloia works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. Stocks are rising in early trading on Wall Street after the government reported that the U.S. unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time in almost four years. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The economy is still in lousy shape.
You didn't need to see the September jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to know that.
You can probably see it in your own life or by just looking around a little.
But the numbers are the numbers.
The unemployment rate dropped in September from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent. The economy added an estimated 114,000 jobs.
It's good news. Not great news, but good. Be happy for the people who found work. Be encouraged that it could continue, no matter who gets elected in November.
But be careful about drawing any big conclusions as to how this will effect presidential politics.
Conservatives are welcome to embrace conspiracy theories that the Obama administration is cooking the numbers to boost his re-election prospects, and while I'm no expert, the experts say that's a lot of nonsense.
In fact, some of the experts believe the federal jobs surveys are painting a bleaker employment picture than is actually the case.
All I know is that if the White House could manipulate the data, then they should have started a whole lot sooner and done a whole lot better job of padding it.
There's nothing in these numbers to break into a chorus of "Happy Days Are Here Again."
The President is welcome to say that this shows he's done a good job of leading the recovery, and Mitt Romney can say he could have done better and will if he gets the chance.
"This is not what a real recovery looks like," Romney said in a statement.
It's certainly not the recovery we would all prefer.
After Obama's stumble in the debate the other night, all the talk was that the jobs report would supply the back end of a one-two punch that would turn around the presidential race for Romney.
I guess they'll have to go with Plan B.