We covered a lot of this yesterday, but the WSJ summarizes nicely:
An 8.6% unemployment rate is hardly worth celebrating, but after nearly two years of mediocre job growth and unemployment at 9% or above, yesterday’s November jobs report feels like a bigger improvement than it is. Private sector job growth of 140,000 was respectable but still less than half the 300,000 or so monthly job creation that is typically associated with expansions. The September and October payrolls were revised upward by 72,000 jobs, also signs that the economy has bounced back from the growth slump earlier in the year.
There was a huge 594,000 decline in the number of Americans who are officially unemployed. But the main reason for the big drop in that number and the fall in the jobless rate wasn’t more people working, but fewer people looking for work. The labor force declined by 315,000 workers and the labor force participation rate fell to 64% from 64.2% in October. The labor force participation rate has fallen by some two percentage points since early 2009, which means that more than two million Americans have withdrawn from the work force. Normally during a recovery as hiring picks up, Americans get back into the jobs market.
All of this points to an economy that is growing, but in fits and starts and at a low trajectory. There are still six million fewer Americans working today than before the financial meltdown, making this by far the worst jobs recovery in modern times. Americans deserve better, and in particular they deserve a Presidential debate focused above all on returning the private economy to the engine of prosperity it was until only a few years ago.
Inspired by my liberal friends, who were so febrile during the Bush years, let me indulge in a little freestyle, improvised conspiracy theorizing myself. No numbers can be believed if they come from the Executive Branch led by this regime. None. Sometimes they admit their deception, as when “growth” is “revised” from 2.5% to 2% or “productivity” from 3.1% to 2.3%, with further “revisions” “expected”. (Those “numbers” are provided by the Commerce and Labor Departments, respectively.)
Other times, as now, we are left scratching our heads.
How can the economy add jobs (both in initial counts and in “revisions”), dropping the unemployment rate a whopping 0.4% in one month (when “expectations” were for no change), yet the percentage of people in the workforce actually fell?
That’s a chart of workforce participation rate over the last decade from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fairly steady during the Bush years, it fell sharply in 2008, as you might expect—and hasn’t stopped falling since. We’ve been in “recovery” for two and a half years, and 64% is the new 67%. There are 6,000,000 Americans working today than before the 2008 crisis. Where did they go? What are they doing?
That’s a chart of foodstamp (SNAP) participation (sorry for the truncation—full chart here).
Notice a correlation? Let me spell it out: fewer people are working than either before or during the recession; more people are on foodstamps than either before or during the recession.
Here it is in percentages:
Is it any wonder the Obama reelection strategy is to shun a shrinking demographic (workers) and embrace a growing one (welfare recipients)? He couldn’t have done better if he tried—which I maintain he did. This is all going according to plan.
As he told Joe the plumber, he’s not about creating wealth, he’s about spreading it. As was said of the Messiah, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.” (Isaiah 40:4) In a modern translation, that would read “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage… If I help Him, He’s gonna help me.”