About Those Jobs Numbers for January: Obama?s Economic Bravado Relies on Defining down Success

P21DerryckGreenWith every new month comes the federal government’s assessment and report on the previous month’s jobless numbers.

Project 21 member Derryck Green uses this first-Friday announcement to comment on the state of the economy in general and employment in particular under President Barack Obama’s stewardship.

This month, on the heels of Obama’s State of the Union address, Derryck sees the usual class warfare rhetoric setting an agenda that only seems to be successful if one is willing to redefine what success means:

When it comes to the economy, there continues to be very little success to celebrate unless the understanding of what constitutes success is defined downward.

Under President Obama, economic success is currently characterized as a descent downward to effectively paper over the pain of millions of struggling Americans.

The President, possibly realizing this fact a mere six years too late, devoted a significant portion of his uninspiring State of the Union address about his alleged passion to revive “middle class economics.”  This, however, seemed to be nothing more a continuation of his predictable pattern of recycling class warfare campaign rhetoric that pushes wealth redistribution in lieu of actual economic policies facilitating more job creation and thus will ensure more employed Americans.

Proof of the President’s apparent lack of a real plan for the economy was his $4 trillion dollar budget that was generally ill-received.  The President’s budget contained around $2 trillion dollars in tax increases, with an obvious intent to redistribute at least some of that revenue to the struggling middle class.  But it bears repeating that redistribution of wealth isn’t economic growth.  Reduced regulation and incentivizing the market in a way that leads to substantial job creation, as well as wage increases, is what stimulates economic growth.

Of course, job creation still isn’t where it should be.  The private firm ADP suggested the private sector created only 213,000 jobs in January.  This is far below expectations — shocker — and down from the 252,000 jobs the government reported were created in December.

Greenblog020615-1In its latest monthly report, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed that 257,000 jobs were created in January, just slightly better than last month’s numbers.  But the official unemployment rate still rose to 5.7 percent.

Among the various racial demographics, the unemployment rates for blacks fell slightly to 10.3 percent.   In big news, black teen unemployment fell below the 30 percent level for one of the few times under Obama’s watch to 29.7 percent.  Unemployment for Hispanics, however, increased from 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent (and Hispanic teen unemployment rose from 19.1 percent to 22.1 percent).  White unemployment rose slightly while Asian unemployment fell.

Then there is the U-6 alternative measure that reports an unemployment rate of 11.3 percent.  Once again, this rate — that includes those looking for work, underemployed and discouraged and not looking — is nearly twice what the government considers the official rate.

Slightly encouraging was that the labor force participation rate rose to 62.9 percent, but it remained in the same two-tenths of a point limbo it has been in since last April.  Approximately 9 million people remain officially unemployed, 6.8 million people are underemployed and 682,000 people are discouraged and no longer actively looking for work.

Month after month, free of the political rhetoric characterizing President Obama’s economic declarations, I’ve chronicled the conditions that characterize this so-called recovery under President Obama’s stewardship.  During this time, I’ve reported how employment numbers coming out of the Census Bureau were allegedly falsified in an what could likely have been an effort to absolve Obama from his responsibility for, and his contribution to our perpetually weak economy.  At worst, the true nature of the economy was intentionally underreported at the time for deceptive political and ideological reasons related to Obama’s 2012 reelection effort.

Our nation’s economic health hangs on the number of people who remain unemployed, are underemployed and who are not in the workforce.  Other factors include the numbers of jobs created, especially if that’s below monthly population growth.  Also, consider the amount of jobs generated the past several years and the possibility that many of those jobs have gone to immigrants — both legal and illegal — as opposed to native-born Americans.  All of these specific economic indicators are what the Obama Administration neglects to mention, and what his spokesmen seem to actively decide to ignore.

This past week, Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of the Gallup polling firm, penned a commentary confirming common sense and what Project 21 has been relaying for months — that the reported unemployment rate of 5.6 percent, which was released for last December is largely baloney due to the method in which the government officially counts the jobless.  Clifton called it “The Big Lie.”

For example, if people just give up looking for work, they aren’t counted among the unemployed.  They are simply ignored.  At the same time, if someone works a single hour each week and earns more than $20, they also aren’t counted as unemployed.  They are technically part of the workforce, and thus would not have been part of the 5.6 percent of those unemployed last December.  Additionally, those who worked part time but want or need full time work are counted as employed as well.

This is one major reason why those who are savvy about our economy and how the government works refer to the alternative unemployment measure, the U-6 rate, as the indicator of the actual unemployment rate.

As Clifton warned:

The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

The unemployment numbers are a measure that benefits Obama, yet continues to stifle this economic recovery.  It seems a high price to give him bragging rights.

In a separate commentary, Clifton further wrote that, for the first time in 35 years, more businesses are dying than are being created.  Since 2008, business creation has fallen below the business failure rate.   As reported by the Breitbart news service: “America has just 6 million businesses with one or more employers — 3.8 million of which have four or fewer employees.  In total, these 6 million U.S. companies provide jobs for more than 100 million people in America.”

Clifton wrote:

There are about a million companies with five to nine employees, 600,000 businesses with 10 to 19 employees, and 500,000 companies with 20 to 99 employees. There are 90,000 businesses with 100 to 499 employees. And there are just 18,000 with 500 employees or more, and that figure includes about a thousand companies with 10,000 employees or more.  Altogether, that is America, Inc.

Greenblog020615-2That’s not all.  There are several other things continue to point out the anemic recovery that Barack Obama celebrates:

  • The economy’s growth last quarter was only 2.6 percent, with GDP growth dramatically down from previous quarters.  When the year was averaged out, the economy only actually grew 2.4 percent in 2014.  Many economists celebrate the apparent best year of economic growth since 2010 — which shows how hard they’re trying to find something to celebrate.  Again, this is defining success down.
  • The Center for Immigration Studies found that, since 2009, the Obama Administration quietly gifted around 5.5 million work permits for “non-immigrant foreigners who arrived as tourists, students, illegal immigrants or other types of migrants.”  According to the Center, this is outside the law and the limits set by Congress.  This, yet again, is at the expense of American workers.  If the number of people already given work permits is added to the number of people included in Obama’s new lawless executive action of delayed deportation of illegal immigrants, more than 10 million foreign workers will be added to the economy by the end of this year.  This will further suppress wages due to the increased pool of labor.  When that number is combined with the average yearly flow of immigrants into the country, Obama could have added potentially 18 million foreigners to the economy since 2009.  This wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if we had a strong economy that wasn’t hamstrung by regulations, poor job creation and government mandates.
  • Tax revenues hit a record $739,482,000,000 for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2015.  Yet, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement, the federal government ran a $176,664,000,000 deficit during that save time.  The White House projected that, for the totality of Fiscal Year 2015, the federal government will take in more than $3.1 trillion in tax revenues — another record.  Still, the President is intent on raising taxes.
  • John Deere and DreamWorks Animation both downsized, laying off hundred of employees.  And RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy.
  • Homeownership rates are at a 20-year low, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  By government estimations, slightly fewer than 64 percent of Americans owned their home at the end of last year.  And prices in the rental market continue to climb.
  • ObamaCare continues to do its part to further hamper the economy.  A recent Congressional Budget Office report projects the President’s signature legislation will cost the government $1.993 trillion while taking in more than $643 million in new taxes, penalties and fees over the next decade.  But it will still leave close to 30 million uninsured and will average out to a cost of $50,000 per person insured under ObamaCare.  This is despite the fact that Obama promised us — repeatedly — that passing this impractical bill wouldn’t add a dime to our taxes.
  • The Census Bureau reports that 20 percent of all children in the country now rely on food stamps.  Prior to the recession, that number was just one in eight.

Obama claimed in his State of the Union address that “[t]he shadow of crisis has passed” and we were going to “turn the page.”

It may be a different page, but it’s the same old story.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.