Good News! American Workers Are Giving Up

On Friday, the president wasted no time informing the country that unemployment rates had dropped from 9.8% to 9.4%.  That sounds pretty good until you dig into the underlying numbers. Then it sounds dire.

Despite expectations that the U.S. would add 170,000 new jobs, only 100,000 were added in December.  And yet the unemployment rate fell by 0.4%, a feat that would normally require the addition of up to 750,000 new jobs.  How could the rate fall so dramatically with job gains of only 100,000?

Normally, an increase of 100,000 jobs would not even absorb the number of new entrants (new graduates, immigrants, and those returning to the work force) to the labor market.  But we're told that 100,000 jobs have lowered the unemployment rate by 0.4%.  It sounds like someone at the Department of Labor is cooking the books (something I've suspected at times but have never been able to prove).  Actually, there is a very logical explanation for this anomaly.

How can 100,000 new jobs drop the rate by 0.4% when it would normally take an increase of 750,000 jobs to do so?  Simple: 650,000 people stopped looking for work.  Maybe that was because they preferred to stay home collecting the unemployment checks that the lame-duck Democratic Congress so generously extended.  Or maybe they just gave up and stopped looking.  Either way, it's nothing for the president to brag about.

But then, in his briefing on the jobs report, the president conveniently failed to mention the fact that in the space of a single month, hundreds of thousands of Americans had stopped looking for work.  All he told us was that 100,000 jobs had been added, and the unemployment rate had fallen to 9.4% -- sort of like the kid who comes home bragging about making an "A" in physical education but remains mysteriously silent on the rest.  This is just what America needs at this point in its fragile economic recovery: a furtive leader who won't own up.

This is the same leader who told us that unemployment would never go above 8% on his watch.  In fact, it has never been below 8% since the president's costly stimulus package went into effect.  And the stimulus package itself is one of the reasons why.

Maybe Obama thinks that the truth is whatever he wills it to be.  That has been the approach of leftist leaders from Lenin and Stalin on down to Mao, Castro, and Chávez.  The problem for madmen like these is that the facts eventually catch up with them.  Sooner or later, it becomes impossible to hide the fact that millions of their people are going without food, shelter, or basic services.  At that point, the communist state begins to implode.

Obama's brand of communism is little different.  It has promised jobs but failed to deliver.  The reasons it has failed are not difficult to identity.  Obama has spent two years trashing the business community, attacking America's most successful corporations, introducing new regulations and unreasonable enforcement actions, and threatening tax increases.  In the face of such hostility toward business, does he really believe that companies will be creating jobs?

If he were forthright with the American people, Obama would acknowledge that he has failed to deliver the jobs needed to move the economy forward and that his anti-business policies are the cause of this failure.  Then he would lay out the facts: that with 25 million Americans unemployed and  underemployed, it will take a lot more than 100,000 jobs per month to bring about full employment.  Counting new entrants into the labor force, it will take 350,000 new jobs per month, and even then, it will take over 65 months to reach "full" employment (generally defined as a 5% unemployment rate).

That's nearly five and a half years to bring the rate down to 5%, a fact that leading economists, even those on the left,  readily acknowledge.  But even that result depends on a vigorous economic expansion month after month over a period of more than half a decade.  The only president in recent memory who has even come close to accomplishing such a feat was George W. Bush, with 52 months of uninterrupted economic expansion between 2003 and 2008.  And he did it by lowering taxes, cutting regulation, promoting trade, and championing American businesses.

The only way Obama is going to be able to bring about real job creation is by changing course, shedding his socialist skin, and emulating the pro-business stance of his predecessor.  This will require more than hiring a new chief of staff and economic advisor.  It will require a profound change of heart: jettisoning everything he has stood for over his entire political career and embracing a conservative, pro-business, anti-union, anti-trial lawyer, anti-Big Government agenda.  It will require a Chávez-like leader to suddenly morph into Bush III, or better yet, Reagan II.  The odds of this happening are not just slim to none -- they are zero.

As a result, even under the best circumstances, job growth is going to remain anemic.  The only chance we have of seeing unemployment rates drop below 9% is if another million Americans give up and drop off the roles of job-seekers.  That may happen, but it is not good news for the country.  And it is one more reason why Obama must be defeated in 2012.

Conservatives need to focus like the proverbial laser on Obama's failure to create jobs, and they need to articulate the reasons for that failure.  Those reasons are not hard to identify: new regulation, taxes, an activist Justice Department, and a general tone of hostility toward business.  Even discounting his many other failures and liabilities, the jobs record alone should be enough to deny Obama a second term.

Jeffrey Folks is author of many books and articles on American culture and politics.
On Friday, the president wasted no time informing the country that unemployment rates had dropped from 9.8% to 9.4%.  That sounds pretty good until you dig into the underlying numbers. Then it sounds dire.

Despite expectations that the U.S. would add 170,000 new jobs, only 100,000 were added in December.  And yet the unemployment rate fell by 0.4%, a feat that would normally require the addition of up to 750,000 new jobs.  How could the rate fall so dramatically with job gains of only 100,000?

Normally, an increase of 100,000 jobs would not even absorb the number of new entrants (new graduates, immigrants, and those returning to the work force) to the labor market.  But we're told that 100,000 jobs have lowered the unemployment rate by 0.4%.  It sounds like someone at the Department of Labor is cooking the books (something I've suspected at times but have never been able to prove).  Actually, there is a very logical explanation for this anomaly.

How can 100,000 new jobs drop the rate by 0.4% when it would normally take an increase of 750,000 jobs to do so?  Simple: 650,000 people stopped looking for work.  Maybe that was because they preferred to stay home collecting the unemployment checks that the lame-duck Democratic Congress so generously extended.  Or maybe they just gave up and stopped looking.  Either way, it's nothing for the president to brag about.

But then, in his briefing on the jobs report, the president conveniently failed to mention the fact that in the space of a single month, hundreds of thousands of Americans had stopped looking for work.  All he told us was that 100,000 jobs had been added, and the unemployment rate had fallen to 9.4% -- sort of like the kid who comes home bragging about making an "A" in physical education but remains mysteriously silent on the rest.  This is just what America needs at this point in its fragile economic recovery: a furtive leader who won't own up.

This is the same leader who told us that unemployment would never go above 8% on his watch.  In fact, it has never been below 8% since the president's costly stimulus package went into effect.  And the stimulus package itself is one of the reasons why.

Maybe Obama thinks that the truth is whatever he wills it to be.  That has been the approach of leftist leaders from Lenin and Stalin on down to Mao, Castro, and Chávez.  The problem for madmen like these is that the facts eventually catch up with them.  Sooner or later, it becomes impossible to hide the fact that millions of their people are going without food, shelter, or basic services.  At that point, the communist state begins to implode.

Obama's brand of communism is little different.  It has promised jobs but failed to deliver.  The reasons it has failed are not difficult to identity.  Obama has spent two years trashing the business community, attacking America's most successful corporations, introducing new regulations and unreasonable enforcement actions, and threatening tax increases.  In the face of such hostility toward business, does he really believe that companies will be creating jobs?

If he were forthright with the American people, Obama would acknowledge that he has failed to deliver the jobs needed to move the economy forward and that his anti-business policies are the cause of this failure.  Then he would lay out the facts: that with 25 million Americans unemployed and  underemployed, it will take a lot more than 100,000 jobs per month to bring about full employment.  Counting new entrants into the labor force, it will take 350,000 new jobs per month, and even then, it will take over 65 months to reach "full" employment (generally defined as a 5% unemployment rate).

That's nearly five and a half years to bring the rate down to 5%, a fact that leading economists, even those on the left,  readily acknowledge.  But even that result depends on a vigorous economic expansion month after month over a period of more than half a decade.  The only president in recent memory who has even come close to accomplishing such a feat was George W. Bush, with 52 months of uninterrupted economic expansion between 2003 and 2008.  And he did it by lowering taxes, cutting regulation, promoting trade, and championing American businesses.

The only way Obama is going to be able to bring about real job creation is by changing course, shedding his socialist skin, and emulating the pro-business stance of his predecessor.  This will require more than hiring a new chief of staff and economic advisor.  It will require a profound change of heart: jettisoning everything he has stood for over his entire political career and embracing a conservative, pro-business, anti-union, anti-trial lawyer, anti-Big Government agenda.  It will require a Chávez-like leader to suddenly morph into Bush III, or better yet, Reagan II.  The odds of this happening are not just slim to none -- they are zero.

As a result, even under the best circumstances, job growth is going to remain anemic.  The only chance we have of seeing unemployment rates drop below 9% is if another million Americans give up and drop off the roles of job-seekers.  That may happen, but it is not good news for the country.  And it is one more reason why Obama must be defeated in 2012.

Conservatives need to focus like the proverbial laser on Obama's failure to create jobs, and they need to articulate the reasons for that failure.  Those reasons are not hard to identify: new regulation, taxes, an activist Justice Department, and a general tone of hostility toward business.  Even discounting his many other failures and liabilities, the jobs record alone should be enough to deny Obama a second term.

Jeffrey Folks is author of many books and articles on American culture and politics.