Administration allies took to the airwaves over the weekend to hype Friday’s jobs report showing a drop in the unemployment rate from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February. Combined with a surging stock market, this is supposed to be evidence of a good and improving employment picture.
Sorry. No sale.
By most historical measures, the jobs picture remains bleak. Sure, the unemployment rate ticked down. But as I noted Friday, if today’s unemployment rate were measured against the same labor participation as when President Obama took office, it would be 10.7 percent.
But wait a minute, say Obama supporters, 260,000 jobs were created in February! Yes, seems encouraging. Until you realize that even more people — 296,000 — dropped out of the labor market entirely.
Perhaps the most worrisome jobs news is that reported by the Washington Examiner. Among Americans in the prime working years of 25–54, 5.2 million jobs were lost in the recession that ended in June 2009. Not a single net job has been regained among this cohort in the last four years. In fact, the number of working individuals in this age group is lower than it was in 1997 — despite a 20 percent increase in the U.S. population.
The unemployment rate has been 7.7 percent or above for more than 50 consecutive months and long-term unemployment remains stuck at record highs. Perhaps the media have been conditioned to report these horrible figures as the acceptable new normal. But after more than four years, the rest of America is asking, “Where are the jobs, Mr. President?”