- - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving is a time when we express our gratitude to the Almighty for the many blessings bestowed on our country and its people.

Sadly, though, this is also a time of severe economic anxiety and fear for many Americans, who are still struggling in this persistently weak economy to earn a living and make ends meet. It’s a time when many more people now say “they worry a lot” about losing their jobs in the Obama economy, not to mention the long-term unemployed, who are still looking for work in an economy where jobs are in short supply.

These are the results of a new survey that has yielded some deeply disturbing findings on this Thanksgiving that should fuel new debate about the president’s policies and programs, which have failed to revitalize our once-mighty economy.

This is a time when our country and its leadership at all levels of government need to begin refocusing on why our economic performance remains shamefully weak and subpar four years after the recession supposedly ended.

At the highest level of our government, President Obama rarely talks about the economy’s enduring weakness and has given up on improving its fundamentals. He hasn’t a clue about what is needed to make that happen.

On Capitol Hill, you can search in vain for a Democratic leader who is angry that, as Mr. Obama nears the sixth year of his presidency, 11 million Americans are still unemployed, and millions more are underemployed, working part time or fewer hours at less pay.

Stories about the economy’s underlying weaknesses are a rarity on the network news shows. The highly paid news anchors, reporters and producers in New York, no matter how bad things have gotten, all too often give that subject short shrift or avoid it altogether. All too often, they gush over minuscule numbers that they say purportedly show the economy is doing better, but very often ignore the bad numbers or play them down.

There are signs in some sectors of the news media, though, that the economy is getting a deeper re-examination.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post ran a lengthy story on its front page, beneath this headline: “For low-wage workers, unprecedented anxiety,” adding, “Many fear losing their jobs, poll finds.”

The newspaper reported the dismal results of a recent national survey by The Post and the Miller Center, a public-policy affiliate of the University of Virginia. This is what it found:

“American workers are living with unprecedented economic anxiety, four years into a recovery that has left so many of them stuck in place. That anxiety is concentrated heavily among low-income workers .”

Among the poll’s broader findings:

More than six in 10 workers say they worry they’ll lose their jobs in this economy. Nearly one in three said they worry “a lot” about being laid off — a record high, the survey report said. Notably, 54 percent of workers earning $35,000 or less said they now worry “a lot” about losing their jobs. That number compares with 37 percent of similarly lower-income Americans in 1992.

“Lower-paid workers also worry far more about making ends meet. Fully 85 percent of them fear that their families’ income will not be enough to meet expenses,” The Post reported. Thirty-two percent told pollsters they worry all the time about making ends meet, “a number that has tripled since the 1970s.”

The survey also dramatically revealed just how deeply Mr. Obama’s economy has reduced household incomes: 40 percent of all workers said they either had their work hours or pay levels cut. For workers making less than $35,000, that percentage jumped to 54 percent. It is 45 percent for those who earn between $35,000 and $74,999, and 27 percent for workers above $75,000. These are dreary numbers, indeed. Behind them are people who are suffering under Mr. Obama’s poor leadership and failed policies.

Other polls show that confidence in Mr. Obama’s economy is eroding fast and his job-approval poll numbers are falling with it. A Gallup poll shows his job-approval score averaged 40 percent for the week ending Sunday, though other surveys had it falling into the high 30s. It is noteworthy that his approval rating has fallen to 39 percent among workers whose annual income is between $24,000 and $59,999. That shows he is losing his base of support, an ominous political sign for his party for the 2014 midterm elections.

“Barring any major reversal this week, Obama is on track to shed at least two points in November, another month in which problems with the Affordable Care Act’s implementation have dominated the news,” Gallup reported Tuesday.

The monthly jobs count may be up slightly, “but for recent college graduates and older adults the situation is grim, and many working-age adults have abandoned job searches,” says University of Maryland economist Peter Morici. “Even with more full-time positions, the pace of job creation is well short of what is needed. About 360,000 jobs [per month] would lower unemployment to 6 percent, but that would require GDP growth in the range of 4 [percent] to 5 percent. Over the past four years, the pace has been a paltry 2.3 percent,” Mr. Morici writes.

Stronger economic growth is possible, but not with the Obama administration’s current policies. Just four years into Ronald Reagan’s tax-cut-driven recovery, the economy was expanding at nearly a 5 percent annual rate. No one sees that happening under Mr. Obama’s anti-growth and anti-jobs policies.

For millions of struggling Americans, this is going to be a very unhappy Thanksgiving.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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