EDITORIAL: Obama’s unemployment shuffle

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Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said last week, “The Recovery Act has played a significant role in changing the trajectory of our economy and changing the conversation about the economy in this country.” In lock step with the Obama administration, the media dutifully reports that job losses are getting smaller each month. This rosy outlook depends on a selective use of government data. In reality, the unemployment rate is rising.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Household Survey data offer the broadest and most accurate short-term measure of the job market. They show that from February through August, the economy faced a net loss of 2.5 million jobs. In August alone, the number of people with jobs fell by 392,000. Instead of getting better, August experienced the worst reported drop during the last three months. Another 143,000 Americans gave up altogether and stopped looking for jobs, a status that doesn’t count as unemployed for government statistical purposes.

This last number shows that the national unemployment rate is much worse than the official claim of 9.7 percent. During June, July and August, more than 1.1 million people decided to stop looking for jobs and thus are no longer considered part of the labor force. This is by far the largest drop in this category during this recession, and it’s the fourth-largest drop over the past 35 years. The Department of Labor reported on Wednesday that July had the lowest number of new job openings since those numbers started being collected in 2000.

By the time August numbers are released, 142,000 unemployed will have run out of unemployment insurance benefits. More than 496,000 will have run out of benefits through this month. By October, more than 734,000 will have run out. If a Republican administration were in charge, the media would be running story after story screaming bloody murder about the dire financial straits of these poor people. Yet the networks are silent on their plight during the Obama presidency.

Back in January, President Obama was optimistic and promised that the stimulus plan “will likely save or create three to four million jobs.” Lawrence H. Summers, the president’s chief economic adviser, predicted the economy would start improving “within weeks” of passage of the stimulus package. With unemployment worsening at an increasing rate, it’s clear Obamanomics isn’t working.

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