Stacey Vanek Smith:In a few hours we'll get the first really important economic data of 2012 -- the Labor Department's monthly jobs report. Economists expect a strong showing. In November, 120,000 jobs were created, and if the numbers out this morning are also strong, as they're expected to be, it would mark the sixth straight month of strong job gains. Employment is shaping up to be the election year issue.
Mitchell Hartman has more.
Mitchell Hartman: Private employers added more than 1.5 million jobs in 2011. Pretty good, but not good enough to help most of the 13 million Americans who are still unemployed.
Economist Kurt Rankin at PNC Bank predicts job growth will continue at this same slow pace — right through election time.
Kurt Rankin: Those job gains only get us down to about an 8.6 or 8.7 percent unemployment rate.
Not all analysts are quite so pessimistic. But most still see unemployment hovering above 8 percent, including Andy Laperriere at ISI Group.
Andy Laperriere: That’s going to feel more like an economy that’s not really recovering, rather than an economy that’s on the mend. And that’s an environment where the president will be very much on the defensive.
And he says there are several potential stumbling blocks that could derail growth between now and November -- like the European debt crisis, oil prices or more Congressional squabbling over spending and taxes.
I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.