A FREQUENT THEME during the recent partial government shutdown was the terrible toll it was taking on the American economy.
Media coverage adverted repeatedly to the ways in which the five-week closure of some federal facilities and the furloughing of federal workers would "hurt the wider economy" (Time), inflict pain "on businesses across all sectors" (Fox News), and potentially result in "zero economic growth" (CNN). "The entire US economy is faltering," lamented the Los Angeles Times. The shutdown was putting "stress on [the] financial sector," reported The Hill. It was "causing far greater damage to the economy than previously estimated," NPR told its audience. Economists feared it might "nudge the economy toward the next recession," Politico observed.
Even the government's reopening didn't douse the pessimism. On Jan. 28, shortly after the shutdown ended, The New York Times noted mournfully that "not all the economic damage will be undone" and "the effects of the shutdown will linger." Approximately $3 billion had been permanently lost to the economy, the Congressional Budget Office estimated. That prompted Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, to declare that the shutdown had "caused serious and lasting damage to our nation's economy."
Then came the Labor Department's January jobs report, and the gloom and doom went poof.
Far from suffering a grievous blow because of the 35-day standoff, the US economy had surged. A whopping 304,000 jobs were added during January, making it the 100th consecutive month in which payrolls expanded.