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Thursday
Jul032014

Hat-Trick! Obama Leaves Labor Participation Stagnant for Three Months Straight

It’s customary for the previous month’s unemployment numbers to be released on the first Friday of the successive month.  With the first Friday of July being a federal holiday, the government’s release of new jobless data was moved up by a day.

That’s good news for President Obama even though the numbers that were released were not.  Coming at such a time, it becomes part of the post-holiday news dump.  It’s a common tactic in which news that is bad but cannot be avoided is released at a time when most people aren’t going to be paying attention — such as just before the weekend or before a major holiday.

Today’s jobless numbers certainly fall into the category of something that the White House probably won’t want repeated by newscasters and analyzed by commentators.

The overall unemployment rate, as calculated by the federal government, is 6.1 percent.  The numbers are much higher for demographic groups such as blacks, black teens, Hispanics and the more inclusive unemployment rate that measures those looking along with those who have given up.  That last rate was regrettable at 12.1 percent.

While the official unemployment rate went down slightly, the devil is in the details.  For the past three months — a quarter of a year — the workforce participation rate has remained at an unacceptably low 62.8 percent.  The rate that includes those out of the job search is relatively unchanged, but just under twice the official rate that was fed to the public with great rejoicing.

In short, it would seem that the jobless outlook is a house of cards waiting to tumble.  It’s just a matter of time before the bubble bursts.

Derryck Green, a member of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network, is a regular commenter on the state of the Obama economy.  In his monthly analysis of the federal jobless report, Derryck sees a lot of talk — but not a lot of proof — of a working Obama economic recovery:

Any pain that President Obama may be experiencing right now as a result of recent economic news is purely self-inflicted.

Pain felt by the American people?  It doesn’t seem deserved.

Last month’s news of a revision of the first quarter’s gross domestic product figures — the best indicator of national economic growth through goods and services — showed an economic contraction to a degree that seemed like great news when compared to the next revision from a few days ago.  This second revision showed the first quarter’s GDP actually contracted at an annual rate of 2.9 percent — the fastest pace at six years.

Mainstream media outlets largely dismissed this unsettling news rather than sounded alarm bells.  They continued to blame a harsh winter for the contraction while, at the same time (and at the same time as they repeat warnings about global warming), they seem to try to manufacture confidence by offering better-than-expected projections regarding future economic growth.  They’ve also taken to celebrating that fact the economy recovered all the jobs it lost in the recession that allegedly ended in the summer of 2009 — even though that alleged recovery took almost six years to happen.

There are a lot of aspects of the Obama-administered economic recovery that fail to impress — or even convince — many of the experts.

There are certainly not that many average Americans who won’t take the bait anymore because everything around us at this time points to the unfortunate reality that the economy won’t meet the rosy expectations they read or hear in the media.

Though the unemployment rate dropped slightly, the number of Americans who continue to see themselves outside of the economy looking in, continues to grow.  About 288,000 jobs were created last month, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.  ADP, an alternative to government job estimates, similarly said private payrolls added 281,000 private sector jobs last month.

Yet the current official percentage of unemployed Americans is 6.1 percent, (a decrease from the previous month).  For blacks, it’s down slightly to 10.7 percent.  For black teenagers, however, it’s rocketed up to 33.4 percent.  For Latinos, it’s up to 7.8 percent.

The labor force participation rate is 62.8 percent that harkens back to the Carter Administration.  And the rate has remained unchanged over the past three months!

The alternative U-6 unemployment rate — the measurement of unemployed, underemployed and able-but-despondent who have given up looking for a job — fell a little to 12.1 percent.  Many observers of jobless figures consider this rate the best indicator of the true extent of Obama’s financial and joblessness crisis.  This rate is almost double the official rate promoted to the media.

It bears repeating that the unemployment rate — the official one that most of the media reports on — is artificially low because more Americans are leaving the workforce and not because there’s any substantial evidence of an economically robust pattern of job creation or hiring patterns by employers. Those who regained the jobs that are celebrating by the media aren’t really much to crow about when considering there are millions of Americans who were been added to the labor force during the same time span (which means it’s more than 7 million jobs behind where it needs to be) or the fact that the quality of jobs gained doesn’t match the quality of jobs lost.

Furthermore, a recent report by the Center of Immigration Studies claims that all job growth since 2000 has effectively gone to immigrants even though native-born Americans account for two-thirds of the labor force.

Here are some other economic clues that the economy is nowhere near where it needs to be right now for this alleged economic recovery the media and the White House talk about to be working:

  • Unemployment rates of people aged 20-24 and 25-34 — college graduates and young adults — has long been higher than the national average;
  • Median household income is roughly $53,000, representing a seven percent drop from where it was in 2000;
  • Generation X households have less wealth than their parents did at comparative ages, indicating stalled careers and less advancement — an effect that essentially redefines what it means to be middle class.  It also means that Gen Xers will have to work longer while trying to overcome the difficulties of having to save more money later in the game.  Add to all this the uncertain future of Social Security.  It means the age at which Generation X retires (and opens up jobs for younger Americans) is in serious question;
  • Inflation is occurring.  The price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs recently hit an all-time high;
  • The average national price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.68, which is a six-year high.  Though many will blame this increase on the chaos in Iraq, a reason only partly at fault, it should be noted (again) that Barack Obama’s energy policy deserves blame.  Blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, reducing offshore drilling and increasing regulation on coal plants while subsidizing (at taxpayer expense) an economically and practically inefficient “green energy” industry only increases the costs struggling Americans have to pay at the pump and other energy needs;
  • Americans who have money saved for emergencies has sharply declined.  Close to two-thirds of Americans don’t have at least six months of expenses saved.  Income stagnation, combined with the increased costs of goods and services, inhibits working Americans from creating and sustaining their own personal economic safety nets;
  • And, speaking of safety nets, beneficiaries of federal disability has topped 11 million for the first time.

President Obama bears an overwhelming responsibility for these perpetually pathetic statistics.  To look at his recent poll numbers, people are finally acknowledging the President’s culpability for our economic inertia.

But Obama isn’t alone in being to blame for the economy.  The job approval rating for Congress is at an all-time low.  Ninety-three percent of people polled expressed little or no confidence in Congress as American institution — a number very well-deserved.

It’s time, for instance, for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to clean off Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk and put some of those bills from the House of Representatives that he’s been holding on to up for a vote.

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