Ed Driscoll

Rush: 'We Are Living in a Dying Country'

“Folks, I don’t know how else to categorize this.  We are living in a dying country,” Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners today:

I don’t know how else to categorize what’s happening — 88,000 new jobs.  The unemployment rate, because of a terrible statistic, is down to 7.6%.  The number of people in this country who are not working is shameful.  Ninety million Americans are no longer in the workforce.  Ninety million.  People not in the labor force grew by 663,000, and now 90 million.  That’s the labor force participation rate.  This is 1979 levels.  The only difference is that we don’t have an election around the corner to fix it like we did in 1979.  We had that election last November, and we blew it.

In addition to payrolls only adding 88,000 jobs, an additional 81,800 went on disability in March.  We’re now up to 8.8 million Americans on disability.  We had nearly as many people go on disability in March as people who found jobs.  I think it’s official.  We have a dying country.  There is literally no way that our entitlement programs and our safety net and our absorption of immigrants, legal or otherwise, can be supported this way.  This simply cannot be sustained.  I don’t know how else to describe this.  The unemployment rate of 7.6% is ridiculous.

The U-6 unemployment rate is still around 15%.  That is the unemployment rate you get if you add people who are out of work and looking for a job and people who are out of work and have given up looking.  Those people have been out of work for a long time.  They’ve had 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, and they’ve given up looking, so they’re not counted in the reported unemployment percentage of 7.6%.  If they were counted, the number would be 15%.  And if there were not the demographic weighting — the 7.6% number is arrived at by estimating certain factors as being in existence or being true based on demographics. There are assumptions made about employment, unemployment in the Hispanic community, with women, black community so forth.

Rush goes on to namecheck James Pethokoukis, who in the headline of his article at AEI describes this as a case of “Heading backward: The miserable March jobs report:”

It would take superspin powers to portray the March jobs report as anything other than a huge step in the wrong direction. The US economy added just 88,000 jobs last month, 95,000 in the private sector as public payrolls fell by 7,000. The official unemployment rate ticked down a tenth of a point to 7.6%.

1. That is a paltry number of jobs, more or less matching assumed labor force growth per month. So the economy must add at least that many jobs just to keep the labor market at current depressed levels. In other words, at 88,000 jobs a month the economy would never ever close the jobs gap.

2. The unemployment rate dropped because of a further decline in the labor force participation rate, now at its lowest level since 1979. If that rate were merely at March 2012 levels, the unemployment rate would have been 8.3%. At January 2009 levels, 11% (or 10.98%). While going back four years ignores demographic factors like baby boomer retirements, the aging of America doesn’t explain the entire drop. (Indeed, before the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office predicted 2013 labor force participation would be 65.2% (vs. 63.3% in March), assuming demographic changes.)

Factoring out the retirement issue might put the adjusted unemployment rate at 9.9%, says the economics team at Hamilton Place Strategies. Also, the employment-population ratio continues to bottom feed. (See above chart).

According to a headline today at the Zero Hedge econoblog, “People Not In Labor Force Soar By 663,000 To 90 Million, Labor Force Participation Rate At 1979 Levels.”

1979, you say? To borrow a recurring leitmotif of the Insta-Professor, “Of course, as has now become obvious, these days a Carter rerun represents a best-case scenario.”

Or perhaps Cyprus is the best case scenario, based on this headline at The Hill, complete with a shot at Emmanuel Goldstein Mitt Romney in the lede of the article: “Obama budget to take aim at wealthy IRAs.”

Because The Man has got to have that stash hidden away somewhere.