Skip to comments.Deconstructing Obama’s Dismal Record on Jobs
Posted on 01/20/2014 11:19:29 AM PST by Kaslin
According to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7 percent. Is this good news?
Well, its depends on your benchmark. Compared to Frances anemic economy and double-digit levels of unemployment, America is in decent shape.
But if you use data from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve to compare the current business cycle to previous downturns and upturns in the U.S. economy, then the outlook is very grim. Simply stated, the American economy is enduring the worst performance for labor markets since the Great Depression.
Moreover, the Washington Post put together a chart in 2012 showing that Obama was far behind other presidents on job creation (a point humorously reinforced by Michael Ramirez).
Lets look at some additional data to assess the Presidents track record on jobs.
Well start with a chart, versions of which Ive been sharing for nearly four years. It shows the unemployment rate that the White House claimed we would have back in 2009 if the so-called stimulus was enacted, compared to what actually happened.
As you can see, this is hardly a ringing endorsement for the Keynesian notion that more government spending is good for job creation (or for Nancy Pelosis laughable claim that you create jobs by paying people not to work).
But even though Ive used variations of that chart several times, I dont think its the best measure of either employment markets or the Presidents performance. The White House can argue, with some validity, that the chart merely shows that the recession was more severe than they first forecast.
And critics of the Obama Administration can argue, also with validity, that the unemployment rate is an inadequate measure because it doesnt capture the extent to which people drop out of the job market.
Thats why Ive always liked the Labor Departments figures showing the employment-population ratio. Its a very straightforward number, showing the share of the working-age population that is employed.
And this data series is perhaps even more unfavorable if were giving Obama a grade for jobs.
The big drop took place before the President took office, so thats definitely not his fault. But he can be blamed for the fact that the labor market didnt bounce back, which usually happens after a recession.
Having millions of people leave the labor force translates into less economic output.
economic output is a function of labor and capital. And if you want an economy to produce more, your only choices are to somehow achieve one or more of the following:
- More capital.
- More labor.
- More efficient use of capital.
- More productive use of labor.
In other words, labor and capital are the two ingredients that determine economic performance.
Needless to say, if you have less of one of the ingredients, youre not going to produce as much.
Lets look at another chart that reveals the Administrations poor performance on jobs. James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute combines concepts by replicating the White Houses chart (including their prediction of joblessness in the absence of a so-called stimulus), but also including red dots showing what the unemployment rate would be today based on the various labor force participation rates that we might expect in a healthier economy.
The startling takeaway from this chart is that the unemployment rate today would be more than 10 percent if people hadnt dropped out of the labor market!
Very sobering data, indeed.
And the main response from the White House is to argue for more unemployment benefits. Thats not very compassionate, as Senator Rand Paul and I explained in a piece for USA Today.
By the way, there is no reason to think that labor force was supposed to shrink. Heres what the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted in 2007 compared to whats actually happened.
So we have to ask ourselves why did so many workers leave the labor market? Was it the overall increase in the burden of government? The increase in the minimum wage? The disability scam? Subsidized unemployment? The welfare trap?
The honest answer is either I dont know or all of the above. Or maybe something in between.
But I do know that its a very bad sign.
pretty much says it all
The writer does not appear to understand how markets work.
Both the stock market and business make adjustments for foreseeable future events. During 2008, as the probability of Obama's election grew, the stock market sank. Stockholders could see that with the election of Obama and the Democrats, government would impose new taxes and regulations so that business would be less profitable and stocks would sink. Sell on the rumor, buy on the news.
Likewise, astute businessmen who foresaw Obama's election cut back on hiring and inventory in anticipation.
Exactly, and what party was in charge?