The good: 171,000 jobs added.
The bad: Everything else.
Another 170,000 became unemployed last month, leaving the total unemployed at about 12.3 million. That’s 12,300,000. From there, things really get bad.
Take home pay is down, as wages increases failed to match inflation. U-6 is almost unchanged at 14.6%, and the “real” unemployment rate, if labor participation hadn’t fallen so drastically since January, 2009, is 10.6%. Black unemployment — the bullshit BLS number — is 14.3%. What’s the real number? Worse.
Number of hours worked per worker is down, in part because employers are cutting hours to escape ObamaCare’s clutches. Of course, that means more bodies are required to fill the unworked hours, which probably accounts for some of last month’s “better” than expect 171,000. Obama calls that “spreadin’ the wealth around a little.” There’s not much wealth, but at least it’s all spread around.
There’s an old George & Ira Gershwin number, “Nice Work If You Can Get It<", which I discovered while honing my Tony Bennett collection during the '90s. They wrote it in 1937 for Fred Astaire. The title is a saying from the Depression, but its original meaning is largely forgotten.
During the Depression, we had unemployment ranging from 15%-25%. That's even worse than today, because in addition to the New Deal gunking up the works, Congress also decided it was a swell time to wage a trade war, while the Fed sucked cash out of circulation and the White House monkeyed almost daily with the gold standard. Really, it was a perfect storm of stupid.
What people forget however, is that New Deal efforts to raise wages actually worked. Labor did indeed become much more expensive. Now, that's not exactly a policy designed to increase employment, which is one of the many reasons the Depression lasted so damn long. But that's where the expression came from. If you were one of the lucky ones who could find work, you were making good money. That good money came at the expense of 15%-25% of your neighbors who couldn't find any work at all, but that was their tough luck. Hence: Nice work — if you can get it.
We’ve seen the same stuff today. As I’ve written here before, the White House, the Fed, and the pre-2011 Democratic Congress all thought that the key to increasing poverty was to keep prices high. And let’s castigate wealth creators while we’re at it, too. That’s the same tack taken by FDR, and — surprise! — we’ve seen similar results. The particulars differ, but the main effect is the same: Persistent and high unemployment coupled with sluggish growth.
This is Obama’s economy. Let’s pray it’s a one-term proposition.