43 Months of Depressing Misery
I was briefly tempted to take a tiny bit of pity on the Obama administration after Friday's awful employment report. After all, one can make a pretty strong case based on the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) figures that the number of jobs added after seasonal adjustment should have been at least 50,000 higher than the official result of 96,000. That still would not have been enough to support a claim that the job market or the economy as a whole are legitimately recovering, but it would have sufficed to prevent the Obama-loving but self-protecting establishment press from reluctantly pouncing on how bad Friday's news was, and how it will harm Dear Leader's reelection prospects.
But then I read the reactions of Alan Krueger and Hilda Solis.
Krueger, who chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers and as such is supposed to be financially and statistically literate, was last month seen complaining that July's reported unemployment rate of 8.3%, unrounded, was "only" 8.254%. Shortly after Friday's release, he claimed that "today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression." Solis, the insufferable apparatchik who serves as Obama's Labor secretary, piled it on even thicker, asking us to believe that "our recovery remains on a stable trajectory of positive job growth. Smart and steady wins the race."
Forget about the sympathy. If anyone deserves a bad break from seasonal calculations 60 days out from the presidential election and just desserts for avoiding at least three previous months when the seasonal sausage-makers could defensibly have reported initial job losses (August 2011, April 2012, and June 2012), it's this reality-denying crowd.
Three years and seven months into the Obama administration, there's no longer any reasonable doubt that we're living through the worst presidential exercise of economic stewardship since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's rabid progressivism known as the New Deal locked the Federal Reserve-created, Herbert Hoover-enhanced Great Depression into place for eight additional years. In 1932, the year before FDR was inaugurated, the unemployment rate was 23.6%. In 1940, it was still 14.6%. In between, it never fell below 12%. The economy only recovered because of the military build-up required to win World War II.
Today, as Mort Zuckerman accurately contended in a Friday evening Wall Street Journal op-ed, "we are experiencing, in effect, a modern-day depression," where "dependent millions" relying on food stamps and swelling the disability rolls "are the invisible counterparts of the soup kitchens and bread lines of the 1930s." Zuckerman, James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute, and Amy Payne at the Heritage Foundation have accumulated separate litanies of awful statistics, largely focusing on deep drops in labor force participation and sharp increases in discouragement. Collectively, they completely repudiate Krueger's and Solis's aforementioned recovery assertions.