- - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Alarmingly weak job creation, which has been the shameful hallmark of the Obama economy, went from bad to worse last month.

The nation’s employment rolls rose by a tepid 142,000 in August, the economic equivalent of a thimble-full in the world’s largest economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reduced its job-number estimates for June and July by 28,000.

It was another painful reminder of President Obama’s failed, anti-job, anti-growth economic policies during nearly six long years, when millions of Americans still can’t find a good, full-time job that pays a living wage.

As usual, the gloomy BLS report came and went without a serious response, or an apology, from the White House. Democratic leaders remained embarrassingly silent on the issue that is hurting the middle class, the very people they profess to care so much about.

Only this time, some of the most powerful sectors in the national news media, who have long been sugarcoating similarly weak job reports, or making excuses for them (blaming the weather or Republicans), have begun to get tough with the administration.

Some in the media are no longer pulling their punches about who the voters will hold responsible in November for the administration’s worsening economy.

“With Friday’s disappointing jobs report for August, Democrats can pretty much give up any remaining hopes that voters will shake their gloom about the economy before this fall’s midterm elections,” writes Jackie Calmes, The New York Times’ veteran Washington political reporter.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Tuesday said that 54 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is handling the economy, with only 42 percent (the base of the Democratic Party) saying they approve.

Virtually every survey in recent years has found that the economy and jobs are the chief concerns of the American people. That hasn’t changed. Last week, the George Washington University Battleground Poll reconfirmed that finding.

It also found that likely voters believe the Republicans, by a wide margin, would be far better at dealing with the economy than the Democrats — 49 percent to 42 percent.

The Washington Post-ABC poll also found that on the question of who will you vote for in the House elections, “the numbers are clearly favorable for the Republicans.”

The economic and political climate is now so bad for the president and his party that The New York Times has begun comparing Mr. Obama’s presidency to the time when Jimmy Carter presided over a distressed economy that led to a severe recession. Mr. Carter’s advisers had another word for it at that time: malaise.

Americans remember that President Reagan ended the recession in only two years with a soaring recovery that created huge monthly new job numbers in the 400,000 to 500,000 range, and up.

Last week’s New York Times’ jobs story ran under the bluntly worded headline, “Job Growth Is Sluggish, Raising Fear of Malaise.”

Notably, The Times led with one of the most frightening parts of the jobs report that was buried or ignored by much of the news media: Its pull-no-punches lead read: “Missing: nearly three million American workers.”

It referred to the vast number of discouraged Americans who have given up looking for a job, shrinking the nation’s workforce, but also driving down the unemployment rate because they were no longer counted among the unemployed.

Obama apologists maintain that the sharp decline in the nation’s labor-force participation rate was largely a result of the retirement of aging baby boomers. That is just not true.

Times reporter Nelson D. Schwartz points out that “25-to-54-year-old workers are quitting as well. Just over 81 percent of this group was in the workforce last month, compared with 83.4 percent in early 2007, equivalent to the disappearance of nearly three million workers.”

According to a study of the latest BLS economic data by Barclays, “younger men in particular have given up and dropped out in large numbers,” Mr. Schwartz writes.

“Participation for this group is down to 88.8 percent, from 93 percent before the recession . What is more, in a new development since the Great Recession, women between the ages of 45 and 54 have also begun to leave the labor force, reversing a decades-long pattern of increasing numbers entering the workforce.”

As bad as all this is for the economy, and for a growing sector of involuntarily jobless Americans, an even bigger income problem plagues people with jobs; young, college-educated adults just entering the workforce; and blue-collar workers.

Wages have been largely flat over the past five years of the so-called “recovery.” College graduates are now forced to take lower-paying jobs once claimed only by high school graduates, the result of a persistently weak economy. The number of factory jobs was unchanged last month, and retail jobs fell by 8,400.

Gallup released new statistics showing that “new businesses are in decline,” as capital investment has continued to shrink as a result of deep uncertainty over the economy, owing to the Obama administration’s attempts to hike corporate taxes and impose new regulations on the business community.

As the November elections draw nearer, the likelihood is that the economy’s troubles will loom larger than ever. The jobs picture isn’t going to improve anytime soon, and the third-quarter economic growth rate is shaping up to be in the mediocre 2 percent range.

It’s still “the economy, stupid,” and Americans won’t be fooled this time. Mr. Obama and the Democrats are in for yet another shellacking.

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

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