On Third Thought, the Economy is Recovering Fairly Nicely

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Today is my day for publishing charts that I find interesting but don’t quite know what to think of. As you all know, government estimates of job losses and gains each month are released a few days after the end of the month. Then they’re revised, and then, two months after the initial estimate, they’re revised one last time. Mostly, though, only the first estimate ever gets much attention.

But those revisions matter, as Ryan Avent shows in the chart on the right. The light blue line shows employment changes based on the third and final estimate, and compared to the initial estimates (dark blue) it shows that the Great Recession was both deeper than we thought and that the recovery has been more robust than we thought. On the downside, we lost something like 6.5 million jobs instead of 5.5 million, but since then we’ve gained something like 3 million jobs instead of 2 million. (As always, the little spike in 2010 is due to temporary census jobs.)

In one sense this doesn’t matter. Both lines show that we’re about 3.5 million jobs below the previous peak. And neither line shows much acceleration in the jobs picture over the past year. Still, while this chart shouldn’t change our minds a lot about how well the economy has been doing recently, it does suggest there’s a little more cause for optimism than the headline numbers have suggested in real time.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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