Facebook IPO, App Economy May Not Initially Affect Employment Report

By Julie D. Andrews 

In slugging it out for voters (already), Mitt Romney and his party are pummeling President Barack Obama over the just-released employment report, which shows a mere trickle of growth.

Romney may see this as a way to win over voters, and he appears keen to position himself as the candidate who can revive the economy. But this may be a hasty tack to take.

That’s because the country could just be in the fueling-for-fire stage, as set by the new application economy and smartphone/communications boom, Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at Progressive Policy Institute, wrote for The Atlantic, and the upcoming Facebook initial public offering May 18 could be the match to set it aflame.

Voters interested in the economy may do well to consider candidates’ stances on and support of technology, research, and development while contemplating how to cast their votes.

Drawing a parallel to the presidential election of 1996, Mandel charges us to think about the power of innovation and the tipping point at which new tools and technology start to help boost the economy.

He sets as his example former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who posed as the would-be economic messiah when trailing former President Bill Clinton after a May 1996 employment report initially showed meager job gains of 2,000. The key word was initially: Dole was rash in his conclusions.

As it were, Mandel reminds us, the economic data for April 1996 were later revised to show an increase of 160,000 jobs — quite a hop, skip, and jump from 2,000.

Indeed, revisions roiled onward, churning what at first appeared to be a bust into a gigantic boom — the mammoth creation of 800,000 jobs — to Clinton’s benefit. Mandel wrote:

The apparent sputtering of the job market in early 1996 was really just the sound of the New Economy revving up for takeoff.

Such things could happen again. Why? The power of innovation: Innovation creates jobs, plain and simple. Apple stores are ever-bustling, and the company’s products are largely in demand.

It’s worth noting that when Obama recently announced the creation of nearly 300,000 jobs, he also unveiled a slew of new apps created by developers nationwide who responded to his call to action to help Americans find the new job postings more easily from their devices and PCs. Obama knows where the people are. He knows where the voters are.

Industries are hungry for app creation and hiring to meet these needs, and such developer demand may not be fully reflected in the employment report. If Mandel’s theory rings true, a similar revising of the May 2012 employment data may occur, in part because job growth from small companies is missed in early estimates of jobs and gross domestic product.

Readers: Do you agree or disagree with the theory presented by Mandel?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.