07 Mar 2014 About Those February Jobs Numbers
If things are getting better, why doesn’t it feel like it… and why doesn’t the supporting information seem to support the official unemployment rate?
It’s the first Friday of the month, and that means the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report on the jobless numbers for the previous month.
In February, the unemployment rate went up slightly to 6.7 percent, but it is part of a troubling stagnant trend. Once again, the key word for the BLS is “unchanged.”
It’s gone up a tenth of a point since last month, which is easy to believe. But that fact that it is still fairly low considering all of the other factors involved makes things harder to swallow.
For example, the labor force participation rate is unchanged (there’s that word) at an abysmal and almost record-low 63 percent. And the alternative U-6 rate that also covers those who are unemployed or have given up looking for work is very high at 12.6 percent.
For yet another month, it would also seem that President Obama’s most loyal constituencies were the ones really left wanting when it comes to jobs. Black unemployment is still quite high at 12 percent. Black teen unemployment is at 32.4 percent. The Hispanic jobless rate is 8.1 percent. All of these loyal, key constituencies are on the hind-end of an already anemic Obama recovery.
It’s certainly impolitic, but — overall — it’s just plain bad for these demographics in particular and the American workforces as a whole.
And the latest budget is yet another disappointment. Austerity does not appear to be in the President’s vocabulary as the proposed budget spends tens of billions more than last year and offers no substantial way to pay for more welfare state expansion outside of the obvious taxes on the job creating class and from a military that is finding it harder and harder to defend the homeland and our interests abroad as the appeal to do more with less can no longer be considered humanly possible.
But the unemployment rate is allegedly below seven percent by their estimates. Happy days are here again!
In his monthly “About Those Jobs Numbers…” analysis of the state of the Obama economy, Project 21 member Derryck Green remains pessimistic. Derryck’s pessimism is justified, as he paints a picture of a president apparently wholly uninterested in economic matters and distracted by the many scandals derail his legacy and play havoc with the normal and expected affairs of state.
Because the Obama Administration is in perpetual damage control mode these days — attempting to manage the repercussions of the President’s ongoing and mounting missteps — the economy seems all but forgotten.
Domesitcally, these blunders include — but are not limited to — the continuing and unanswered questions surrounding possible IRS political intimidation. There’s also the man-made distraction that is Attorney General Eric Holder — who recently encouraged his state-based counterparts to disregard their oaths to their respective state constitutions and not defend laws they personally disagree. He also wants states to lift bans that would allow convicted felons voting privileges.
And there’s yet another ObamaCare implementation modification and a two-year delay to the imposition of the individual mandate.
On the world stage, White House blunders include the repercussions of Syria’s civil war and the humanitarian disaster that occurred while Obama professed (but later walked back) red line of tolerance for Assad’s murderous assault on his own people. Then there’s Iran’s disruption of Middle East politics and mocking of the President’s threat of military force to contain Iran as well as Putin’s attempt to expand the Russian empire.
Again, because of the President’s contribution to these distractions, the economy is the forgotten man. The economy receives scant mention by the media and not taken seriously by the President or his economic advisors.
So now we have word that unemployment may be on the rise again. The new official rate went up to 6.7 percent. About 10.5 million of our fellow Americans are looking for jobs in a tough market. Of those, 3.8 million — a more than 200,000-person increase since last month — are considered “long-term unemployed” because they’ve been jobless for more than 27 weeks.
The labor force participation rate is stagnant at 63 percent — a low that harkens back to the Carter era. That’s surely not a comparison that the President want to hear.
This week was also the release of Obama’s proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year. It was a minor news story. The fanfare of past presidents’ budgets was lacking. It seems the dismal track record of previous Obama budgets makes the sixth one a non-story.
While the national unemployment rate rose, the rate for blacks and Hispanics fell ever so slightly — but it’s still way above the national rate. While the Obama Administration may desperately try to cherry-pick this and spin it as more so-called evidence of an economy slowly gaining momentum, it cannot be forgotten that the nation’s GDP was revised downward to a 2.4 percent annual growth pace in the fourth quarter, not the 3.2 percent that was initially reported. Oops!
Five years after the President’s celebrated almost $900 billion “stimulus” package, there are still more people out of the workforce today than when he took office in January of 2009.
There are more people receiving food stamps and federal disability than when he took office as well. The annual average labor force participation rate reached a 35-year low, averaging 63.2 percent for 2013.
All of this is indicative of the fact that this economic “recovery” — if one still wants to call it that — is the weakest since the Second World War.
The Congressional Budget Office’s recently released report describes the reality in detail. It notes that the sluggish recovery, the inverse relation of the unemployment rate drop to the high numbers of disaffected, potential employees who’ve left the labor force (including high numbers of long-term unemployed) and low demand for goods and services is partially responsible for the slow growth of payrolls — and it is expected to negatively affect the nation’s economy for at least a decade.
Month after month, the economic indicators become increasingly ominous — yet very little seems to have been done to address the problems. The nation is in a vulnerable position and in need of real leadership. But such leadership apparently cannot be found with the person now disrespectfully reclining in the Oval Office with his feet up on the desk.
Consider the President’s recently released, nearly $4 trillion dollar budget that his partisan allies will undoubtedly use as a campaign platform during their mid-term election campaigns. The President wants more tax increases, with projected revenue of more than a trillion dollars. He wants to decrease the size and pay for members of our military (even though food stamp use among our soldiers, sailor and airmen has increased during his tenure).
Obama wants to create and fund more social programs like universal preschool, and he wants to extend unemployment insurance. There are even outrageous budget sub-topics, such as ending homelessness, increasing minimum wage and immigration reform.
If that wasn’t unserious enough, the President’s budget also calls for a $1 billion-dollar, “resilience fund” that would combat the negative effects of climate change. This would, in essence, give the EPA the money and power to impose the President’s regulation-heavy agenda on the country — causing energy costs to increase, cheating the economy of over $2 trillion over the next 20 or more years.
In no way can Obama’s budget be considered a sober attempt to deal with the economic difficulties facing America — many of which he directly contributed to. In other words, there is zero substance in it. And this is also perfectly reflective of the man in the top post.
It would appear to be clear that the state of the nation’s economy matters very little to the President.
Obama hasn’t been held accountable for the nation’s poor economic situation thus far, and it’s suspect that very little will change regarding that fact in the forseeable future.
top and bottom photo credits: iStockPhoto