Working in America
A dismal May jobs report suggests more misery ahead
Barack Obama traveled to Indiana last week to hold a pep rally about an economy that doesn’t have much pep. He raised a few halfhearted cheers but it wasn’t clear, exactly, what country he was talking about.
The latest jobs report puts to rest any lingering fantasy that these are the salad days of the economy. The monthly jobs report said 38,000 jobs were created in May, but together with downward revisions of the figures from the previous two months, the net number of jobs created was less than zero.
The number of blue-collar and middle-class jobs shrank again. America lost jobs in manufacturing, construction, and mining. Nearly half of all mining jobs have been lost over the past two years, due in no small part to the Obama war against coal.
The unemployment rate actually fell to 4.7 percent, the lowest rate since the recession of 2008-09. But that’s a statistical mirage. The stated unemployment rate fell because nearly a half-million additional Americans left the workforce in May.
If the economy were as strong as the numbers say, why are so many adults leaving the workforce? In a recovery workers usually return to the job market. The Obama record on the economy is a dismal one: just under 95 million Americans above the age of 16 are not working. When it seems the participation-in-the-economy rate can’t fall lower, it does. It’s the lowest now since the Carter years. Perhaps some of the 45 million Americans on food stamps or other government welfare assistance think that’s as good as a job.
The Labor Department calculates that the real unemployment rate is closer to 10 percent, including workers who have stopped looking for work and those who want a full-time job but can’t find one. The number of workers who want to work 40 hours a week and the paycheck but can’t find one, and must work part-time, increased by 468,000 in May.
This is dreadful news for American workers and points to an economy growing at a miserable 1 percent over the past six months. The economy should be growing at 3 to 4 percent, and the Obama administration still has not produced a single year of growth exceeding 3 percent. In the Reagan years growth averaged 3.5 percent annually, with several quarters above 7 percent.
This administration opposes energy development, demonizes business, strangles employers with new regulations every week and racks up debt at a rate never before seen.
President Obama’s economists offer only stale excuses: It’s all the fault of the Republican Congress (that the president ignores), George W. Bush, global developments, the Verizon strike, and of course global warming.
The reality is businesses aren’t investing or expanding operations because they’re struggling against the public policy headwinds created in Washington. To grow, the economy needs a corporate tax cut, a pro-drilling and mining energy policy, and a rollback of Obamacare employment rules. That’s just a start. It’s clear that this economy won’t get out of what Jimmy Carter famously called a malaise by healing itself. Most Obama economic policies must be reversed. Hillary Clinton’s only prescription is “four more years.” That’s nothing to hope for.