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The Obama economy produced a puny 146,000 jobs in November, far below what is needed to bring the jobless rate down to normal levels anytime soon. The decline in the unemployment rate was in large part due to 350,000 long-term unemployed dropping out of the labor force, saying they were no longer actively looking for work. That meant they were not counted as unemployed and, thus, the jobless rate fell. The number of Americans who told the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ surveyors they had a job actually shrank by 122,000.

If adult labor force participation were the same today as it was in October 2009 when unemployment was at its peak, “the unemployment rate would be 9.7 percent,” said University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici. Add in more than 8 million part-time workers who can’t find full-time jobs and the real jobless rate becomes 14.4 percent, he said.

The jobs picture is so bad that the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it reduced its estimates of jobs created in September and October by a combined 49,000.

The front-page headlines read “Unemployment down to 7.7 percent,” but the statistics behind that number pointed to a stagnant economy at best and one in decline at worst.

The only reporter taking a really close look at last week’s job report was Chris Kirkham of The Huffington Post. It’s not a pretty picture.

The jobs report “is masking a deeper truth: Many of the jobs being created aren’t the kind of high-paying ones needed to bolster an economic recovery,” he writes. “More than half of the jobs created last month were in lower-wage industries, such as retail and hospitality.” Better-paying construction and manufacturing jobs saw no growth at all.

Mr. Obama has failed abysmally to boost faster job-creating economic growth, which is sorely in need of a booster shot of capital investment, the very medicine he hopes to tax into oblivion in 2013.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.