Good Luck Being Unemployed Under Obama

Thirty-six weeks. That's the average time an unemployed American is out of work in the Obama-led economy, according to the latest government data. For anyone who has been jobless for an extended duration of time, nine months seems like an eternity.

But, nine months is the norm in the Obama economy.

The latest data from the Department of Labor show the nation's unemployment rate stands at 7.5%. The Obama Administration and Obama backers are quick to point out that this rate is the lowest of his presidency. However, the deeper we dig into the state of the unemployed under Obama, the more frightening the picture.

Take those labeled as "long-term unemployed", defined as anyone without a job for 27 weeks or more.

When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the long-term unemployment rate stood at 22.6%. By January 2010, one year into the Obama economy, the rate had catapulted to 41.6%. That's a better than four-fifths jump during his first year in the White House.

Suppose however, someone may say that Obama needed a couple of years to implement his grandiose economic policies with the willing Democratic majority he enjoyed during his first two years. If we look then at 2011 and 2012, the average monthly long-term unemployment rate was 43.8% and 41.1%, respectively...atrocious numbers indeed and virtually unchanged since when he took office.

But, these aren't just numbers or statistics on paper. These numbers represent millions of real Americans and their families. The hardships that accompany long-term unemployment can be, and often are, devastating.  Sadly, so many of our fellow Americans have learned just that during this presidency.

A recent Pew study through Brandeis University noted three major negative financial events that come along with long-term unemployment.

1. Taping into resources originally allocated for their children's education or their own retirement.

2. Taking out risky small-dollar loans with high fees

3. Depleting assets in order to meet qualifications for public assistance.

Simply put pencil to paper and consider some real numbers and we see just how detrimental some of these actions can be for a family.

Suppose a 40-year old man takes $20,000 out of his retirement plan to pay for the living expenses of his family. Were he to retire at age 65 and assuming an 8% rate of return on the money, he loses out on $137,000 at retirement.

That could well be a sum of money he never recoups even if he's able to contribute more to his retirement plan years down the line. The $137,000 does not even include the additional costs of taxes and penalties he may incur from the original distribution.

Let's say this same man chooses instead to raid his 8-year old son's 529 college savings plan to the tune of $10,000. By doing so, the boy loses out on over $21,000 ten years from now when he starts college based on the previous rate of return assumption and, again, excluding penalties and taxes that may be incurred.

You see, the effects of extended durations of unemployment can be quite devastating not only for just one generation of a family but it can impact multiple generations.

As depressing as these figures may be, there is a group of unemployed Americans in the Obama economy who are experiencing an even more deplorable state.

According to the latest Department of Labor data, there are some 2.3 million persons who are described as"marginally attached to the workforce". These individuals want to work and are available to work and have looked for a job some time in the past 12 months.  However, they remain without a job.

Imagine the financial gymnastics these folks are going through to pay bills and attempt to eat and keep a roof above their heads. Note that this group of some 2.3 million individuals is not even included in the headline unemployment rate released on the first Friday of each month.

What we have now, according to recent testimony before a congressional committee is "unprecedented disengagement from the labor force with current (labor) participation at its lowest rate in almost 35 years."

Do a little math and 35 years takes us back to 1978, the heart of Jimmy Carter's economically futile presidency. Still then the average duration of unemployment was a mere 12 weeks.  Recall that the average person is unemployed under Obama for three times that...36 weeks.

Who would have thought that a president could have a labor record so woeful that he made Jimmy Carter look like an economic wizard?

Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest. He can be reached at