About Those December Jobs Numbers…

Even though only a meager number of jobs were created during the month of December and workforce participation fell, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics nonetheless says the official unemployment rate actually dropped at the end of 2013 to 6.7 percent.

Go figure.

P21DerryckGreenProject 21 member Derryck Green, in his monthly “About Those Jobs Numbers…” report that always follows the government’s unemployment announcement, figures there is no reason to celebrate the Obama Administration’s math.  He still sees tough economic times ahead in 2014:

Though it’s a brand new year, it appears it’s the same old story when it relates to jobs and the economy.

Unemployment, it would seem from the government’s press release, slightly dipped to 6.7 percent.

One thing that’s for certain, regardless of the lower December unemployment rate, is that it isn’t the result of enough jobs being created but more likely because more Americans are underworked or giving up hopes of ever finding work.  That’s evidenced by the 2.4 million people considered to be only “marginally attached” to the labor force.

Despite the jobless rate dropping a reported three-tenths of a percentage point, only 74,000 jobs were actually created in December.  That’s opposed to 203,000 jobs created in November.  Expectations were much higher.  It’s not even enough for these new workers to replace the natural workforce attrition rate.

This is the soft underbelly to any claim by the President’s supporters that the economy has turned a corner under Barack Obama’s leadership.

For November and December, the “U-6” jobless rate that measures all of those out of work — including those who are underemployed and able but discouraged dropouts from the workforce — held stable at 13.1 percent.  Also, the workforce participation rate fell two-tenths of a percent (but not in a good way).  Now, that rate is only 62.8 percent — a figure that hasn’t been so low since the Carter Administration.

And, while the official jobless rate is an allegedly better 6.7 percent, the President’s key constituencies continue to suffer at a much higher rate.  Black unemployment, for instance, is 11.9 percent and black teen unemployment is a staggering 35.5 percent.  Hispanic unemployment is at 8.3 percent.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these demographics “showed little change” while the overall rate fell.

There are several other indicators that demonstrate the American economy continues to be held captive by Obama’s economic ineptitude:

  • The seasonally-adjusted number of Americans qualifying for unemployment claims at the end of December was 2,865,000 — an increase of approximately 50,000 over the prior week.
  • Since late December, roughly 1.3 million people have run out of these unemployment benefits because they’ve been out of work so long that they’ve used up their lawfully-allotment of benefits.  If emergency jobless benefits are extended by Congress (a likely possibility), it will be the 12th time since 2008.  Extending unemployment payments for three months would cost an additional $6 billion.  Another year could cost more than $25 billion.
  • Nationally, more than 20 million Americans are unemployed.
  • ADP, the payroll company, expected 238,000 jobs to have been created in the private sector in December.  That was this morning’s hopeful headline prior to the federal jobless announcement of only 74,000 jobs created.  There’s quite a gulf between the prediction and the reality — causing many commentators’ jaws to drop at the government’s 8:30AM announcement.
  • The Social Security Administration said the number of people receiving disability benefits hit an all-time high in December of 10,988,269 recipients — with the average per person benefit coming close to $1,150 per month.  Both the amount of recipients and the amount of benefits are all-time records.

Remember that this President constantly reminds people that the economy is allegedly now in a recovery.  But it would seem to be the worst economic recovery in American history!

Also affecting the state of the economy are the various fees, taxes and penalties associated with ObamaCare — from the penalty of one percent of one’s income (or $95, whichever is higher) for not being insured to increased premiums and deductibles that Americans are responsible to pay for allegedly better insurance plans Obama’s health care mandate that people are forced into joining.  These punitive penalties negatively affect the wallets of middle-class Americans because they forcibly take away money that could be spent in more productive ways — ways that could have demonstrated an increase in consumer confidence in the economy.

Forcing money from the American people against their will — in this case, for mandated health insurance — makes them poorer.  No matter how the Obama Administration attempts to spin this ongoing catastrophe, redistribution is essentially stealing — regardless of how diligent efforts are to assign it with good intentions.

So what’s the plan of the man whose administration is in an executive and moral freefall?  It’s to extend unemployment benefits, increase the minimum wage, reduce income inequality and fight poverty with the creation of so-called “promise zones.”

In other words, Obama reached for campaign gimmicks rather than serious economic policy.  It appears that there’s no gray matter among the President’s brain trust.

That the President is stoically begging Congress to extend unemployment benefits, again, is a tacit admission that the economic policies of his administration failed.  His populist recovery strategy is covering over failure.  Is this even apparent to the President or his advisors?

The President seems to think that increasing the minimum wage is serious and sound economic policy.  He said as much on January 7 when he said that extending unemployment benefits “helps the economy” and “creates new jobs.”

What?  How, exactly?

Again, this is a campaign issue and not a serious attempt at economic policy.  Just 2.6 percent of American workers earned the minimum wage.  Not even three percent!

The President’s approval ratings are in the basement — where many Millennials are coincidentally forced to live due to his economic stewardship — and he’s focused on the minimum wage?  What indicts the President is that data shows that increasing the minimum wages increases unemployment that has a detrimental effect on those who are in dire need of employment and work experience — namely the poor and black teenagers.  Surely, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Arthur Laffer and Project 21’s Horace Cooper can’t all be wrong.

The President’s other related focus is on income inequality.  This, too, is nothing more than a campaign issue predicated on manipulating emotions as a result of envy, covetousness and greed.

It’s also disingenuous and screams of hypocrisy.

Income inequality has risen under this President, and the rich have gotten richer.  That, and the President and his family just concluded a 17-day, $4 million dollar vacation to Hawaii — a vacation the First Lady continued to enjoy as a present for her 50th birthday at a cost of more than $200,000 during a recovery that has yet to truly manifest itself.

This causes the President’s credibility to take yet another hit (does he have any left?).  But happy birthday to you anyway, Mrs. Obama.

And, by the way, what are these promise zones anyway?  This sounds like a game of make-believe that blissfully naïve children play to entertain themselves.

Promise zones?  How about employment zones, Mr. President?  How about picking one geographic area — say, America — and putting as much energy into reducing regulation and creating an economic climate conducive to job creation and hiring as you do into campaigning on less-than-serious issues having little to no positive effect on the American economy?

While Obama fiddles, it can’t be long before increasing numbers of Americans become endeared to other people willing to lead.  Consider Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C), who recently filed an amendment to the bill to extend unemployment benefits that contains a diligent attempt to restore the traditional 40-hour workweek that ObamaCare currently threatens as a result of the employer mandate.  Senator Marco Rubio (R- FL) just gave an impassioned speech about reclaiming economic opportunity while combating poverty through small government, state-led efforts.  And Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a plan last month that would create economic freedom zones (different and substantial from the rhetoric of promise zones) to reduce individual and corporate income tax rates, reduce payroll taxes, and suspend discriminatory Davis-Bacon wage restrictions.

If President Obama’s bluster is any indicator, 2014 will be an interesting yet frustrating year.  With another recycled State of the Union campaign speech — sorry, address — scheduled for later this month, ObamaCare premiums and penalties due and elections in the fall, Americans should prepare for the political rhetoric to drown out the needed discussion on actual solutions to the nation’s problems.

Buckle up, America.  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.