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EDITORIAL: The Obamanomics decline

Falling income and employment is becoming the new normal

- - Monday, September 2, 2013

Fewer Americans will be returning to the work force after the traditional Labor Day holiday. Labor force participation is at the lowest point since the malaise of the Carter presidency. President Obama's economic policies have guaranteed a lower standard of living for Americans.

A recent report by Gordon Green and John Coder of Sentier Research paints the disturbing picture. On the whole, we're less well off than we were 13 years ago. Our median income, currently $52,000, is 7 percent lower than it was in 2000, using constant dollars. It's an especially tough punch in the gut to our youth, who've seen nearly 10 percent of their income evaporate. Nearly every other demographic category — married or single, man or woman — has been hit.

The consequences have been most dire for those who've lost their job in this stagnant economy. If they're lucky enough to land another gig, it can take several years to make up for lost earnings for even a short spell without a paycheck. The unlucky join the ranks of the long-term unemployed, currently 4 million and growing. Prospects are grim for their return to gainful employment because the economy refuses to grow under Obamanomics.

In a healthy economy, when someone leaves his job, it opens up a space for someone else. Nowadays, full-time replacements aren't being hired — more than two out of every three jobs created this year have been part-time. That's reflected in the dismal labor-force participation rate that's 3 points lower than it was a decade ago. That may not sound like much, but it means we have 7.3 million people who've gone from being productive members of society to being idle.

A good deal of the blame for that development can be pinned on the increased costs of hiring full-time employees under Obamacare. As small businesses scramble to stay alive in the face of increased tax and regulatory burdens, they need to do what it takes to keep payrolls lean, which is why households wind up earning less.

Faced with this reality, millions are being driven toward stopgap solutions that further a national economic decline. Employees who are too old to find a new job but not old enough for Social Security have taken extreme measures such as seeking disability payments to make ends meet. There are now 8.8 million working-age individuals claiming federal disability benefits. At the other end of the demographic scale, fewer in the millennial generation worked full time this year than in the previous three years, meaning they're worse off than their parents had been at the same age. Many of them have moved back in with mom and dad. It's a sign of the times, of the Obamanomics decline.