EDITORIAL: Obama’s cooked jobs books

Fudging the official unemployment rate isn’t working

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In March, 120,000 jobs were created, while more than 330,000 people dropped out of the workforce. For self-serving reasons, the Obama administration spins this as good news.

According to government math, March unemployment declined by .1 percent even though more Americans were out of work. This is because the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t count people as officially unemployed if they are not looking for a job. So even though the “not in labor force” figure is at a record high of nearly 88 million people, the administration can keep reporting a drop in unemployment by counting only those it wants to count.

A growing number of analysts are realizing that these subjective government figures don’t reflect reality in the workplace. An analysis from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Global Research shows that the percentage of employed Americans has basically flatlined for the past two years while the reported unemployment rate has been dropping. This is unprecedented; these two figures have reliably tracked together for at least the past 20 years. The only reason they have decoupled recently is because the Obama administration has stopped counting millions of out-of-work Americans as part of the official workforce. This widening gap is the smoking gun behind the phony unemployment numbers.

Election-year politics have something to do with the growing disconnect. A January report that appeared in the Zero Hedge website noted that if the logic of reporting progressively fewer labor-force participants continued, “America will officially have no unemployed when the Labor Force Participation rate hits 58.5 percent, which should be just before the presidential election.” Three months later, the trend continues. Clearly, skewing the data is an easier way to lower the unemployment rate than investing billions of dollars in failing green-energy firms.

Congress is beginning to take notice. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, California Republican, has proposed the Real Unemployment Calculation Act, which would require “the federal government [to] cite, as its official unemployment calculation, the figure that takes into account those who are no longer looking for work.” BLS already calculates this number - known as the U-5 rate - but it usually isn’t highlighted publicly. This more cohesive jobless indicator currently stands at 9.6 percent, which is more in line with reality based on the other objective data.

The government naturally wants to put as good a face on the ostensible recovery as possible, but the official unemployment figures are painfully out of step with reality. If three Americans are quitting the workforce for every one who finds a job, this is not a recovery. It is a national jobs crisis.

The Washington Times

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