Continuing Obamalaise


A spate of reports just out shows the continuing economic malaise created by Obama’s benighted administration, a phenomenon we call Obamalaise. Obamalaise set in early in the administration, and it has continued, despite what the administration and lickspittles in the media hail as the “miraculous recovery.”

The first item, from the Wall Street Journal, notes that the most recent jobs report was very disappointing: only 162,000 jobs were added in July, far fewer than the 183,000 that had been predicted by various economists. Worse, prior months’ figures were revised downward. Worse yet, average hours worked and average hourly earnings both dropped.

While the unemployment rate did fall from 7.6% to 7.4%, the supposed improvement was due in great measure to more people giving up looking for work.

The only reason the stock market didn’t react dramatically is that the weak report made it obvious that the Fed will continue its aggressive bond buying, which “the Bernank” had earlier suggested might be reduced.

What we have now is a far cry from the 5% unemployment rate that the administration promised us, back in 2009, if we just passed its grotesquely bloated $800 billion “stimulus” bill, with all its payoffs for Obama cronies and supporters. Moreover — as James Pethokoukis notes — we have never come even close to hitting the administration’s projected unemployment rate. For example, Obama promised that the rate would never exceed 8%, but he was off by one-fourth: it hit 10% by the end of 2009.

The real rate of unemployment is upwards of 10%, when you count in the people who want a job but have ceased looking for one.

In that year, the administration also projected that the stimulus would result in over 4% GDP growth in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In reality, growth has been happening at only half that rate, and it has dropped even lower recently.

As I argued in these pages long ago, it is for this sort of governmental fraud that we should extend Sarbanes-Oxley to cover government, not just business. If a program is sold on certain projections by an administration, and the projections prove false, the president, vice president, relevant cabinet members, and the senators and congresspersons who voted for the scheme should do jail time after their terms.

Pethokoukis observes that the real rate of unemployment is upwards of 10%, when you count in the people who have dropped out of the labor force. More than six and a half million Americans want a job but have ceased looking for one. If you count the underemployed, the real rate is above 14%.

Speaking of that, another report points out that of the 953,000 jobs created this year, 731,000 (or 77%) are part-time jobs. The main cause is the impending imposition of Obamacare, which requires employers with 50 or more “full-time” employees — now defined down to mean people working 30 or more hours a week — to purchase costly insurance for all of them. Employers are doing the rational thing: turning full-timers into part-timers. As Tyler Durden puts it, we are being converted to a part-time worker society.

Another recent WSJ piece adds yet more somber news. Over half the new jobs recently created have been in the low-wage sectors of the economy, especially the restaurant and retail industries.

The jobs news is especially ironic in one way: Obamalaise is going hardest on one of the groups that were most enthusiastic about voting for Obama: young people. Unemployment among 18–29 year olds stands at 16.1%. Again, the figure doesn’t include people who have only part-time work but want to work full-time. Only 43.6% of young people now have full-time work. And black teen unemployment has now hit an astounding 41.6%. This is up from 36% a year ago.

One last report puts the present youth predicament with tragic clarity. It turns out that 21.6 million Americans aged 18 to 31 now live with their parents, the highest number recorded in 40 years. This is 36% of all so-called millennials.

Obama built this. He did it with Obamacare. He did it with overregulation, and the leftists that he inserted into regulatory bodies. He did it with tax increases. He did it with his Green jihad on fossil fuels, led by like-minded people at the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA — the “Employment Pulverizing Agency.” He did it with massive taxpayer-backed loans and subsidies of Green energy companies that employed few people (before going broke) but funneled untold millions to political supporters.

Some are predicting that with continued Fed support, the economy’s growth will accelerate, and Obama will finish his administration with unemployment low again — meaning in the 5% range.

Perhaps. But, there is still a business cycle, and if in the next two or three years we have another recession, the workers of this country will be hit very hard, since the “recovery” has been so very anemic. To put it in another way, if this “miracle recovery” involves a record level of dependency on food stamps, a record number of young people forced to live at home, a record percentage of people having left the work force, more and more people forced into part-time work, and a national debt that will soon stand at $20 trillion — what will the next recession look like?

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Jon Harrison

We may never have 5% unemployment again, even in nominal terms. It's a fact that the real unemployment-underemployment rate (including those working part-time who would like to have a full-time job, and those who have given up looking for work) is, as our author points out, about 14%. That's down from about 17% four years ago.

Even if growth accelerates over the next three years, it's unlikely to bring the official unemployment rate down to 5%. I refuse to do the math for a mere comment, but I believe that more than 300,000 jobs per month would have to be created over the next 36 months to get below 6% unemployment. That's not going to happen, Fed or no Fed.

The number of jobs lost to Obamacare remains a matter of conjecture; there are no unbiased studies out at this time. The data necessary to compile such a study will not be available until after the law is fully implemented. I hasten to add that my own conviction is that the law, despite some good aspects, does indeed hinder job growth. But that's just my opinion. In any case, I'm still waiting for someone on the Right to explain to me why every other advanced nation in the West and in East Asia has some form of national health care, has had it for years, and yet nowhere has there been any serious move to get rid of it. Now that would be an interesting topic for an article, as opposed to saying again and again how much one dislikes Obamacare.

It seems to me that one would have to be either a hyper-partisan or an amnesiac to put all the blame on Obama. I seem to remember a series of disastrous economic decisions made by the last Republican administration, its Democratic predecessor, the Congress, the Fed, and Wall Street. Or am I dreaming that there was a tremendous financial panic in 2008, followed by massive job losses that began even before Obama was inaugurated?

We might also, if we care to think deeply, remember that the advent of globalism has rocked certain industries, and deprived many indifferently educated Americans of their low-skill jobs. Not all Americans are qualified to be knowledge workers. The evisceration of the low end of the economy is something most academics don't care to think about. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, they would say with respect to this loss of low end jobs. It is amusing, to one who remembers Republican attacks on One-Worlders, to contemplate the fact that the One-Worlders of today are supporters of the Republican Party.

The joke's on them in any case, because if Hillary is healthy in 2016, she will bury any Republican who cares to run against her. And I assure you that most of the out-of-work millenials living with their parents will vote for her. The only Republican who can cut into the Democrats' share of the youth vote is Rand, but since Hillary will crush him (and any other Republican) among women and minorities, it won't matter a bit. Be ready for at least four more years of Obamanomics after 2016.

Elected officials should be put in jail if their projections don't pan out? Oh silly me, I just now realized that this is a parody.

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