Federal figures on jobless numbers were released this morning, and the appearance of good news unfortunately has a lot of bad news hidden in the details.
The first jobs report of the new year is in, and the message seems to be mixed at the very least.
The American economy continues to plod slowly along, trying to regain the pre-recession economic strength that ensures consumer confidence and makes employers want to hire.
But it’s hard to realize that listening to President Obama as he touts the “success” of his economic agenda. He’s building hype ahead of his second-to-last State of The Union Address later this month.
During a speech this past week in Wayne, Michigan, the President made several questionable statements, attempting to convince the nation that things are getting better. For example, he said one of his New Year’s resolutions was to “make sure… more Americans across the country…[feel] like they’re coming back.”
“Coming back.” That’s what the workers at that plant in Wayne likely want to be doing. The unspoken fact that day was that the Wayne plant is closed temporarily because there just isn’t demand for the Ford Fusion compacts and C-Max hybrids built there.
Mr. President, people will feel like they’re “coming back” when they’re actually coming back. That would mean the jobless must be able to find decent work. That’s when more jobs are being created, there are higher wages to be earned, there’s lower inflation and an ability to save money.
Financial confidence and economic security breeds emotional confidence. And this is just the start of “coming back.” Simply asking people to force upon themselves emotions that are unchecked and not rooted in reality is a terribly foolish thing to suggest.
Speaking of job creation, according to payroll company ADP, private payrolls increased by 241,000 in December — an increase of 13,000 from November. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 252,000 jobs were created. Americans are always thankful for any jobs created, but, just like last year, job creation continues to lag significantly behind population growth.
The was a reported drop in the official unemployment rate determined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. This will undoubtedly encourage people to celebrate — especially at the White House and among the President’s supporters — but only because they willingly ignore the plight of Americans remaining on the fringes of the workforce.
The official unemployment rate that is reported by the mainstream media fell from 5.8 percent to 5.6 percent in December. But the U-6 alternative rate, that includes those same people measured in the official rate as well as those stuck in part-time jobs they wish offered more and the able-bodied who have just quit looking for jobs out of frustration, is double the official rate at 11.2 percent.
On top of that, the amount of people looking for work has dropped as the labor force participation rate fell two-tenths of a point to 62.7 percent. Also in December, there were more people “marginally-attached” (up 200,000) and more “discouraged” (up 42,000) than in November. It begs the question as to how much of the decline in the official unemployment rate is due to people dropping out or giving up their goals for substantial positions just to get by.
And, last month, for the first time in years, hourly wages went down. Jobs may have been created, but earnings are an indicator that the economy is still quite stagnant.
Then there are the problems facing the President’s alleged core constituencies. Black overall unemployment went down to 10.4 percent, but so did the black workforce participation rate. Hispanic unemployment similarly declined, but with a decline in the participation rate. And black teen unemployment rocketed back up into the 30s — from 28.2 percent in November to 33.2 percent in December!
Making matters worse, the job creation that’s taking place doesn’t seem to be benefitting native-born Americans. According to a recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies, the net gains in jobs since 2007 have predominantly gone to immigrants — both legal and illegal. This means there were likely fewer native-born Americans employed at the close of 2014 than in 2007. This should give all Americans tremendous pause and concern as they consider the President’s recent politically, economically and morally unjustified decision to delay the deportation of at least five million illegal immigrants and possibly give them a much-hyped path to citizenship.
The lack of economic opportunity plaguing our nation continues to affect Americans at all levels. According to a recent report by the Census Bureau, 20 percent of adults (13.5 million people) between the ages of 18-34 years old live in poverty. The report also says that “[m]ore Millenials are living in poverty today, and they have lower rates of employment, compared with their counterparts in 1980.” In 1980, only 14 percent of adults between of that age group were reportedly living in poverty.
In addition to Millenials experiencing poverty, another Census Bureau report claims 65 percent of American children live in homes receiving some sort of federal assistance such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid or the Federal School Lunch Program. This shocking reality means American children not dependent on federal aid are now a minority. This is a concerning picture for the U.S. economy and for children now experiencing and learning the cadence and ritual of government dependency.
And, as it relates to SNAP, the number of enrolled beneficiaries exceeded 46 million for 37 straight months.
With so many people depending on the government for assistance, it’s no surprise Americans are also experiencing the difficulties of saving money. Over 60 percent of Americans polled for the financial firm Bankrate don’t have enough money saved to cover the unexpected like emergencies, bills or car repairs. No money today likely means no money tomorrow.
The cause of this economic misery apparently being deliberately ignored by the Obama Administration and the media — aside from poor job creation — is evident. ObamaCare continues to be a drag on the economy as businesses continue to do what they’ve been forced to do to stay open. Some are successful, others aren’t. Several companies recently announced major layoffs, among them JC Penney (40 stores closed, 2,250 employees let go), clothier Wet Seal (3,700 jobless) and the Coca-Cola Company (1,800 layoffs).
In addition to the suffocating effects of ObamaCare (lack of hours and jobs), the Obama Administration is also addicted to regulations that can further debilitate the economy in 2015. According to the American Action Forum, the Obama Administration imposed 79,066 pages of regulations in 2014 that cost more than $181 billion. And Obama obviously wants no oversight and no accountability — he just wants to use his just a pen and phone since he knows that the new Congress wants to put a brake on his activism.
There is a bright spot. Crude oil is around $50 per barrel for the first time in five years. Thanks to the domestic ingenuity and increase in fracking and shale exploration, the price of crude has dropped and the price of gas has dropped with it. According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of gas is $2.18. As a result of the continuing decline of gas, Americans saved $14 billion in 2014. If gas continues the expected drop, Americans will save even more in 2015. The price drop works just like a tax cut, keeping more disposable money in the wallets of Americans to be spent at their discretion.
And for that — and not his jobs report — we can be thankful.