President Obama told a labor union crowd Monday that the economy is better than it’s ever been since the 2008 recession.
However, that isn’t saying much. Economic growth fell sharply and the unemployment rate was soaring in the Great Recession, so it stands to reason that the economy has gotten a little better since then over the past nearly six years of his presidency.
But this economy still remains weak on most of the big measurements: Annual economic growth this year is about 2.5 percent on average thus far. The second quarter’s 4.2 percent growth rate was an anomaly that followed the first quarter when the economy actually shrunk by 2.1 percent.
Meantime, the government’s claim that unemployment has sunk to 6.2 percent is nowhere near a truly accurate figure. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen revealed in a speech at Jackson Hole, Wyo. last month that Federal Reserve economists in Kansas City came up with a new bunch of measurements that placed the jobless number at 7.2 percent.
Obama keeps boasting that the jobless rate has fallen to 6.2 percent, when much of that decline is in part due to millions of discouraged adults dropping out of the labor force because they can’t find full-time jobs.
Moreover, what most Americans don’t understand is that 6.2 percent unemployment rate is the average of all 50 states. Twenty-one of them still suffer from very high unemployment rates — with 20 states in the 6.5 percent to 8.0 percent jobless range, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And they include some of the biggest, most populated states: California, 7.4 percent, Michigan, 7.7 percent, Illinois, 6.8 percent, New York, 6.6 percent, to name a few.
Nearly a dozen states still have unemployment rates of between 7 and 8 percent.
Is this what Obama calls progress, after six long painful years of a struggling, anemic economy?
The average recession lasts about two years, but the Obama economy is still in a roller-coaster “recovery,” that is still weak by most measurements. The numbers of jobs created are still well behind employment levels in 2008. The housing market still hasn’t caught up to home sales levels before the recession and remains sluggish. Wage levels have largely remained flat.
In the “V shaped” Reagan recovery of 1983-84, we saw muscular quarterly economic growth rates of 5.6 percent, 7.7 percent, 8.5 percent, 7.9 percent, 6.9 percent, and 5.8 percent.
Six years after he took office, the Obama economy’s growth rate is projected to be around 2 percent this year.