Norris knows that employment is a lagging indicator. But he seems to argue that hiring will recover quickly:

Employers can be slow to cut back when business turns down, and slow to rehire when it picks up. It stands to reason that when employers cut back sharply — as happened in this cycle — they will have to rehire faster than if they had been slow to fire, as was true in the two previous downturns.

I hope he’ll check back on that theory.

But I’m most interested in how Norris explains why optimism may be lacking this time around.

Both Republicans and Democrats have good reasons to be negative. Republicans are loath to give President Obama credit for anything, and no doubt grate when he points to his administration’s stimulus program as a cause of the good economic news, as he did in North Carolina.

Democrats would love to give the president credit. But much of the Democratic Party wants another stimulus bill to be passed, notwithstanding worries about budget deficits. Chances for that are not enhanced by the perception the economy is getting better.

Wow. Are our pols purposefully pushing pessimism? That’s something we should read more about.

Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at