And so the era of Obamanomics mercifully comes to an end.
It goes out with a whimper, not a bang as the final jobs report for Obama found 156,000 new jobs in December. That’s a mildly disappointing number and is consistent with a seven and a half year pattern of a 2 percent growth rut.
Obama is touting more than 11 million jobs created on his tenure, but that is still at least four million short of the Reagan pace. This recovery has been a mile wide and an inch deep with growth rates in the economy that consistently fell behind the norm of recovery and for most Americans it felt like we were treading water financially.
Even the 11 million jobs claim by the Obama team is more than a little misleading. About half the jobs under Obama fell into the categories of temporary employment and part time hiring, those aren’t the kinds of positions you can raise a family on. Also, because the labor report survey counts a part time job as no different than a full time job, in many cases it took two Obama-era jobs to equal one full time job with benefits.
The sub-5 percent unemployment number in this year has also been a statistical illusion. The more Americans dropped out of the workforce or gave up looking for a job, the lower the unemployment rate plunged.
Obama leaves office with a labor force participation rate at or near its lowest level since the 1970s.
Wages grew 2.9 percent in 2016 but this is the average wage, not the median wage. The rich saw big gains in the Obama years, while the middle class and poor flatlined on incomes. That was also the case in the George W. Bush years as well.
All of this explains why voters in November didn’t opt for four more years of Obamanomics. They voted for economic change and for millions -especially in the industrial midwestern states – that change can’t come soon enough.
I will close the books on Obamanomics giving this President a grade of gentlemen’s C. The economy did pull itself out of a deep recession and the recovery has been lengthy with 75 months of job gains. The stock market rose swiftly in Obama’s first term in the wake of the collapse.
But look for Donald Trump to flick the switch on Obama’s tax and regulatory policies into reverse on day one of the new presidency. That alone could be enough to pull America out of the 2 percent norm.
If we can elevate to 3.5 to 4 percent growth in 2017 the economy will feel like it is soaring and Americans will come to appreciate what a real recovery looks like.
We’ve been down so long, the nation has forgotten what prosperity really is.