Headlines across the nation yesterday and today scream that 96,000 jobs were created in August and unemployment fell 0.2 percent, but any read of the data below the headlines is dismal for Democrats coming off a weak convention that was topped Thursday by a lackluster performance from the Great Bloviator himself.
The number of jobs created is about 30,000 or more below expectations, depending on whose predictions you use, and even that number is barely at the level the country would need to break even for the month.
The important number for the month is 368,000. That’s how many formerly employed Americans gave up hope of finding a job in August and fell off the government’s tables.
The number of people employed in August actually decreased by 119,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But because of the huge number of people dropping out of the job market altogether, the total number of people counted as unemployed shrank by 250,000, producing an illusory decrease in unemployment from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent.
The previous month, when unemployment rose to 8.3 percent, the administration had argued hard that it was “really” a rounded up number, that it was barely over 8.2 percent and statistically insignificant. This month, a phony 0.2 percent improvement is gospel.
The BLS also revised the employment numbers for July and June, noting that there were 19,000 fewer jobs in June and 22,000 fewer jobs in July than previously reported.
The mainstream media explanation for the poor jobs performance is, as the Washington Post put it, that corporations (those evil corporations) are just “sitting on a pile of cash,” and not hiring amid slow growth around the world.
The media actually are trying to use the numbers to bolster Obama’s convention claim that the economy is recovering, he just needs more time.
Obama has already benefited by dragging out this recession. According to the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis, if not for the people who left the job market entirely in August, the jobless rate would have risen to 8.4 percent, and if the number of people in the job market was currently the same as when Obama came into office, the unemployment rate would be 11.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the U-6 unemployment number, which many people believe to be a truer accounting of the unemployment situation in the country, remains at 14.7 percent, down from 15 percent the month before, also a beneficiary of the shrinking labor pool.
In 2008, voters gambled on an unknown to “change” the country. No matter how you spin the numbers, Obama’s Administration has been one long, losing bet for America.