By Matt McDonald, (202) 822-1205,

Another winter of hope, another spring of disappointment. With just 115,000 new jobs, and a drop in the unemployment rate driven entirely by people leaving the workforce (the household survey actually showed job losses for the second month in a row), the April jobs number disappointed even low expectations. After multiple years of spring slumps and constant revising up of previous months, it bears discussion of whether the seasonal adjustments done by BLS need to be updated.

See the details here with our cheat sheet.

Regardless of the statistics, the political implications are interesting. If trends continue, the White House will likely be able to point to an unemployment rate below 8 percent by Election Day. Consider this: over the past year, labor force participation has dropped by 0.6 percent, the equivalent of about 1.4 million people dropping out of the workforce (or not entering in the first place). If that trend were to continue, we’d need just 64,000 jobs per month to break 8 percent by Election Day. The question is, if that happens, is it something to brag about.

For the White House, they risk seeming out of touch with the reality of the economy as voters see it, since three-quarters of Americans think we are still in recession. For their opponents, it is a question of how to articulate the problem of a fundamentally weak recovery in the face of a number of positive headlines.

Regardless of how this plays out politically, it is beginning to feel like the economy is settling into status quo for the duration of the election. With a host of external risks (see yesterday’s note),it seems likely that businesses will be in a cautious mood for the remainder of the year and big changes in the economy are unlikely.

Matt McDonald is a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies and an outside advisor to the Romney campaign. He is a veteran of two Presidential campaigns and the White House. Prior to joining HPS, Matt worked for McKinsey and Company. He holds an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a degree in economics from Dartmouth College.