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.
The administration's sole support for its contention that there has been meaningful job market improvement on its watch rests on one carefully chosen statistic: "The economy has now added private sector jobs for 30 straight months, for a total of 4.6 million jobs during that period."
That claim is incorrect. It is true that the Establishment Survey at the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that private-sector employers had 4.63 million more workers in August than they did in February 2010 after seasonal adjustments. However, the BLS's separate Household Survey tells us that the ranks of the unincorporated self-employed, all of whom are certainly private-sector participants, shrank during that time by 440,000 to a seasonally adjusted 9.46 million, knocking down the administration's cherry-picked number by 9.5%. (The BLS doesn't seasonally adjust its figures for the far smaller cadre of those who are self-employed but incorporated; their respective raw values in February 2010 and August 2012 were virtually identical.)
Qualitatively, the job market decay is all around us. The following stats only scratch the surface of the ugliness (all figures are seasonally adjusted):
- Full-time employment only increased by 43,000 in August. It's down (yes, down) by 902,000 since March, and by over 1.4 million since Obama took office.
- 562,000 fewer married men and 700,000 fewer married women were employed in August than were when the recession officially ended in June 2009.
- 22% of the 3.47 million private-sector jobs created since the recession's end have been at temporary help services.
- What about what the new jobs created actually pay? The National Employment Law Project recently reported that "Lower-wage occupations were 21 percent of recession (job) losses, but 58 percent of recovery growth. Mid-wage occupations were 60 percent of recession losses, but only 22 percent of recovery growth." The leftists at the NELP wouldn't state the obvious, so I will: Their research proves that the Obama administration's economic policies are gutting the middle class.
President Obama's failed stimulus program, brutally expensive and common law-shredding auto company bailouts, bankrupt "green energy" initiatives, and other exercises in "fundamentally transforming" the economy have extended a deep recession which predominantly traces its origins to decades of dangerous Democrat-driven housing policies, pervasive fraud against Wall Street and investors at Democrat crony-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and 2008 campaign promises by Obama and fellow Democrats which the nation's entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and investors correctly saw as threats. The president's and fellow party members' bully-pulpit hostility directed at the productive ("You didn't build that"), the regulatory regime's unprecedented overreach, and the prospect of ObamaCare's disruptive implementation have created an atmosphere of chilling uncertainty virtually guaranteeing that the nation's economic malaise will continue as long as they control the levers of power.
That cannot be allowed to happen.