New job figures are less than what they seem

WASHINGTON — Last month’s new job figures, despite the news media’s exaggerated response, fell well below the numbers needed to put America back to work.

Soon after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its report, announcing that the Obama economy created a mere 214,000 jobs in October, the media immediately responded with gushing reviews, calling the figure “sturdy,” “strong” and “robust.”

The Washington Post was absolutely ecstatic, declaring the job numbers were “the latest reassuring sign about the strength of the economic recovery.”

But the job market’s growth was, by any comparison, as weak as it’s been so many times before over the course of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Who says so? The voters, in a massive repudiation of Obama and the Democrats in last week’s election. Exit polls across the country showed that the economy and the lack of stronger job growth were still their top concerns.

While the network news played up the BLS jobs number and the new unemployment rate, it did not reveal that a large proportion of these jobs were in low-paying service and retail sector employment. Many were part-time positions or jobs with fewer hours to avoid falling under the Obamacare insurance mandate.

Yes, the national unemployment rate inched down to 5.8 percent, but that was largely due to long-term unemployed workers who’ve stopped looking for employment because they could not find good, full-time jobs.

When workers tell BLS survey-takers they’re no longer looking for work, they’re erased from the jobless list, and that’s the chief reason why the jobless rate fell.

University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici says the lower unemployment rate “has been mostly accomplished by encouraging prime working-aged adults to sit out the labor market.”

“If the same percentage of adults were in the labor force today as when President Obama or George W. Bush took office, the jobless rate would be about 9.8 and 11.9 percent, respectively,” Morici writes in an analysis of October’s figures.

As for the much-ballyhooed 214,000 figure, he says “it is still far short of the 400,000 per month needed to bring unemployment down to acceptable levels.”

And if anyone thinks that the 5.8 percent jobless rate is a big improvement, unemployment levels are actually a lot worse in more than half of the states.

The government’s 5.8 percent figure is an average of all the jobless rates in the 50 states, effectively hiding what much of the country is still going through under Obama’s anti-job, anti-growth policies.

The truth is that 26 states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates that range from 6 percent to nearly 8 percent. And they include states with the biggest populations: New York (6.2), New Jersey (6.5), Illinois (6.6), Michigan (7.2) and California (7.3), to name a few.

If you need further evidence of how Americans have soured on the Obama economy’s jobs picture, take a look at this.

The Gallup Poll released a global jobs survey this week that found, in its polling of North America, that Americans “were decidedly more negative overall” about their job prospects.

Gallup’s stunning findings: 56 percent of American men and 64 percent of women said “it was a bad time to find a job.”

Flat or declining incomes is another major weakness in the Obama economy, the result of six years of lackluster growth and weak capital investment that has reduced new business formation. One in three Americans now describe the economy as “poor,” says a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Perhaps the most overlooked weakness in the Obama economy in the past six years has been those Americans who BLS calls the “underemployed.”

These are Americans who want and desperately need full-time employment but can’t find it, and thus are forced to take a part-time job. There are at present over 27 million Americans in part-time work, compared to 24.8 million 10 years ago. The underemployment rate for these Americans stands at 11.5 percent.

Economic studies show that the number of Americans looking for jobs is significantly higher than available job openings. And that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

Now the president faces a Republican Congress that has been given a mandate in the midway point of his second term to turn the economy around.

When Obama met with House and Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle last week, he said he would judge any ideas about changing policies solely by “whether or not they work.”

When he came into office in 2009, he said that if a program or policy wasn’t working, he would try something new.

But he hasn’t done that. Six long years after he spent $1 trillion to create “shovel-ready jobs” for a wide range of federal projects on “infrastructure,” and to invest in clean energy businesses that instead went bankrupt, he’s still pushing the same failed ideas, expecting a different result — and has refused to consider any other policies.

If he searched for what worked in the past, he could look to the Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton tax cuts that triggered much stronger job creation and would do so again now.

But that would violate the Democrats’ liberal blood oath to never encourage capital investment, private enterprise and free markets that would quickly put our nation back to work.

The end result has been six painfully sluggish years of an underperforming economy and an anguished cry from the voters to change course.