5.9% versus 62.7%: The Spin versus the Truth
By Jerry Rogers
At Northwestern University last week, President Obama said we are better off than we were six years ago; and the September Jobs Report—at first glance—supports the President’s assertion. With 248,000 new jobs added to the economy, things appear to be on the upswing.
However, while the keepers of conventional wisdom celebrate the 5.9 percent unemployment rate, the economy continues to sputter. The pundits gladly report on the 248,000 Americans who found jobs—good news! What they’re not reporting is the disturbing news of more than 300,000 Americans who have quit the work force; people who have given up and dropped out.
The unemployment rate dropped because more people simply gave up looking for jobs. The labor force participation rate in September fell to 62.7 percent, a level not seen since 1978. 92.6 million Americans are not participating in the work force!
Too many Americans are still working jobs for which they are overqualified, and wages are still lagging behind the rising costs for housing, healthcare, education, groceries, and energy. More than 500,000 full-time jobs have been replaced by 800,000 part-time jobs since the great recession, the highest increase in part-time employment since 1993.
More than five years after the recession ended, we’re still living in a feeble economy.