Saturday, July 07, 2012

Just how bad is this recovery?

While Obama likes to cite statistics that leave out the first year of his presidency, how about just looking at stats since the recession officially ended in June of 2009? This recovery has been more than sluggish; it's been a disaster.
Labor force participation. The share of people working or actively looking for a job fell nearly two full percentage points during Obama's "recovery." Put another way, the ranks of those who've abandoned the job market have swollen by more than 7 million.

Long-term unemployed. A million more workers have been unemployed 27 weeks or longer than there were at the recession's end. That's hardly the norm for economic recoveries. The Reagan recovery had cut the number of long-term jobless in half by this point.

Median weeks unemployed. Meanwhile, the median length of unemployment is higher today than in June 2009 — 19.8 weeks today compared with 17.2.

New entrants. Joblessness among new entrants to the workforce is 300,000 higher than three years ago.

Unemployment rate. And even though the current unemployment rate of 8.2% is officially below the level three years ago, that's because millions have given up looking for work and so aren't counted as unemployed. If you adjust for that change, today's unemployment rate would be 10.9%.
The comparisons to the recession of 1981-82 is stark.
Even Obama's boast that the private sector has created 4.4 million jobs is far from impressive. By the same point in the recovery from the 1981-82 recession — which pushed unemployment higher than the so-called Great Recession — the economy created 9.5 million new jobs. And that was with a smaller labor force.
Of course, such dismal statistics are no surprise in a month when more people went on disability than got a job in June. That's been the pattern throughout Obama's presidency.
The disability ranks have outpaced job growth throughout President Obama's recovery. While the economy has created 2.6 million jobs since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits.

In other words, the number of new disability enrollees has climbed 19% faster than the number of jobs created during the sluggish recovery. (Even after accounting for people who left the disability program because they died or aged into retirement, disability ranks have climbed more than 1.1 million in the past three years.)
Just think - if more people would go on disability, the unemployment figures would improve since that number only registers those who are still looking for a job. Those who've given up or gone on disability or settled for part-time jobs aren't included in the 8.2%.
In June, 14.9 percent of Americans either were unemployed, had been forced to settle for part-time employment, or had given up looking for work and were not counted as unemployed. The rate was 14.8 percent in May and 14.5 percent in April.
That's why the Obama administration is stuck telling us not to put too much emphasis on a single month's figures at the same time that Obama is telling us that the figures show us taking a step in the right direction. Sure.

Byron York looks back on what the Obama administration has said in response to bad job reports since November 2009 and guess what: they've told us not to read too much into a single month's report 30 separate times. It's time for reporters to follow up when they get this weak spin and remind whatever Obama spokesman is spouting it that they've been saying that for over 2 1/2 years.

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