Lanny Ebenstein, author of The Indispensible Milton Friedman, has written an enlightening article about the playing with numbers involved in the CBO’s monthly jobs reports under Obama.
For example, when the unemployment numbers dropped from 7.9 in October to 7.7 in November, a liberal friend proudly emailed me about what a great drop that was and how Obama was doing such a good job at raising employment levels. I informed him that the drop happened only because 542,000 people gave up looking for work thus making the job participation rate smaller and falsely making the unemployment look lower. I haven’t heard from the guy since.
Ebenstein takes it a step further than I did with my liberal, albeit uninformed, friend: Long term economic growth–and even growth in the short run–depends on an expanding labor force. Since January 2009, the labor force participation rate has declined by almost two percentage points. That’s a bunch!
Here’s more: That’s three and a half million Americans who have given up looking for work. If the labor force participation rate was now at its January 2009 level, unemployment would be 10.7 percent. That’s higher than unemployment was in 2009, when the recession was at its most severe.
Since June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy has added about 847,000 jobs. About 621,000 of these are in local, state and federal government, not private enterprise. The African American unemployment rate is 14.3 percent, up from 13.4 percent just a few months ago. The length of time that people remain unemployed is twice what it was in 2008. The number of Americans on food stamps continues its inexorable rise: the most recent monthly data show that 47.7 million Americans use them, close to one in six individuals. Usage was about 32 million when Obama was elected in 2008.
So, before you pop open a beer to celebrate when Obama makes his State of the Union speech, you might read between the lines and remember the real numbers while he is bragging about the great job he is doing. It’s no wonder he wants to rob the rich and successful who contribute the most to society.
Azcvoices.com is a network of community bloggers created by The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com and 12 News to highlight diverse viewpoints. Members' opinions do not represent the views of Republic Media.
Bio: Jim McAllister has been a Plugged-In Scottsdale blogger, an Arizona Republic Sunday Plugged-In contributor, and a Scottsdale Republic columnist since 2005. He has also written for the Sonoran News and did a weekly column from 2004-2006 for the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley Independent. In 2004 he wrote a 7 part series on The History of Television for TV TOME (now TV.Com). A veteran of the U. S. Air Force, he has done hosting and commercial work in radio and TV and currently does a blog at jmcallister.blogspot.com.