The White House crowed on Friday about the unemployment rate dropping a 10th of a percent. At the same time, the number of people out of the labor force reached a record high. The Obama administration can report all the funny numbers it wants, but the American people know in their guts that things are getting much worse.
A recovering economy is supposed to create jobs, not shed them. According to government math, 115,000 new jobs were added in April. But over the same period, 522,000 people dropped out of the labor force and were not counted as unemployed. This accounting trick improved the official unemployment rate but left America with a record 88.4 million in the uncounted jobless category. Currently, over 35 percent of Americans are out of the labor force, and the number is increasing.
The last time the employment figures looked this grim was more than 30 years ago when the nation was heading into a recession. Had the April dropouts been included in the official number, the unemployment rate would have risen instead of declined. If the official jobless figure were calculated based on the June 2009 employment participation rate, when the recovery officially began, unemployment would be more accurately pegged at 11 percent today.
The April figures reveal an accelerating and troubling trend. In March, there were about three people dropping out of the system for every new job created. Now the rate is four-and-a-half dropouts per new job. Luckily for the White House, the more people who shift from looking for a job to giving up, who transition from hope to despair, the lower the official number tracks. If a few million more citizens simply gave up on the American dream, President Obama could brag about steep drops in unemployment while the country spiraled into misery.
Other data show how the officially sanctioned unemployment number doesn't make sense. Broad measures of economic growth are declining. Weekly new unemployment claims rose in April, and the Gallup seasonally adjusted unemployment number for the month increased by half a percent. Social Security disability claims increased, and according to a Congressional Budget Office report released in late April, more Americans are on food stamps than at any time in history, and that number is growing. How all this translates into a positive jobs picture is a question best left to the bureaucratic math wizards at the Labor Department. Congress should force them to testify about their misleading methodology under oath.
The government continues to hide the victims of its ruinous economic policies. Perhaps Mr. Obama thinks this shell game will help his re-election chances. Maybe he believes that analysis, reporters and commentators will be content to not look beyond the official press release to see how these faux happy numbers are being generated. No doubt, he hopes the record millions of people who have dropped below the government radar will be content to live in quiet desperation, ignored and unnoticed, but more Americans are questioning Mr. Obama's propaganda.
At some point, the credibility gap between the rosy figures coming from Washington and the reality of the Middle American depression will become so great that the entire phony edifice will crash down. Americans know, in their hearts and their pocketbooks, that the country is in trouble. We need to demand an honest reckoning.
The Washington Times
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