The Number of Americans In The Workforce Has Dramatically Increased

On Friday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the latest workforce participation rate.

The article reports:

The number of Americans either working or looking for work in the past month hit a record high of 160,056,000, the first time this number surpassed the 160,000,000 mark, according to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last month, there were 159,716,000 Americans in the labor force.

There were 340,000 more Americans who joined the labor force in February, while 176,000 left. The number of Americans not participating in the labor force declined from 94,366,000 in January to 94,190,000 in February. The bureau counts those not in the labor force as people who do not have a job and did not actively seek one in the past four weeks.

The labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the population that has a job or actively looked for one in the past month, increased from 62.9 percent in January to 63.0 percent in February.

Because the number of unemployed also went down, the unemployment number also went down from 4.8 percent in January to 4.7 percent.

The article also reported:

The “real” unemployment rate, otherwise known as the U-6 measure, was 9.2 percent in February, which declined from 9.4 percent in the previous month.

This is what the U-6 number has been from January 2005 through January 2016:

This is the true unemployment number, and it needs to continue to decrease.

The Real Number In The Economic Recovery

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about the impact President Obama’s economic policies have had on middle-class Americans. The numbers are not good.

As you can see from the chart, there are more people in poverty, the median household income has dropped, and the average income for the bottom fifth of American households has gone done. That is not a recovery.

The article reports:

A couple of months ago, he (President Obama) was in Wisconsin, crediting his policies for “record” job growth, tumbling deficits and big gains in the stock market.

“Step by step, America is moving forward,” he said. “Middle-class economics works. It works. Yes!”

It’s hard to see any evidence of that in the Census numbers. Indeed, the latest report shows that, despite more than six years of economic “recovery,” the middle class is, incredibly, worse off than at the end of the Great Recession.

From 2009 to 2014, real median household income dropped by more than $1,000 — or 2.3% — to $53,657. (And that decline would likely have been steeper if not for a 2013 change in the way the Census does its annual survey.)

Obama’s economy has been particularly harsh on those already at the bottom. Census data show that the bottom fifth of households saw their average income fall by 8% from 2009 to 2014.

Looked at another way, the share of households with incomes below $25,000 climbed from 22.4% to 23.6% over those years.

Among blacks, it went from 35.5% to 36.8%.

President Obama has practiced policies of increased taxation, overregulation, and crony capitalism. All of these policies waste money and inhibit economic growth. Our debt is growing, and if we do not change course in the next election, we will probably not survive as a country.

The Economic Recovery In Real Numbers

Politichicks posted an article today with some of the economic numbers President Obama seems to have omitted from his State of the Union speech.

The article reminds us:

While it might be true that businesses have created 11 million jobs (not Obama), what President Obama fails to mention is that he has been in office 6 years and during his first year in office the economy lost over 4 million jobs. Even with the new jobs created, at best, the economy has created a net amount of 7 million jobs private sector jobs. However, due to the fact that there has also been a loss in government jobs, under President Obama there has been a creation of, at most, 6.4 million jobs during his time in office.

What President Obama and most media outlets also failed to mention is that in order to keep up with population growth, the economy needs to create at least 125,000 jobs per month or 9,000,000 jobs in the 72 months since President Obama took office.

The article also reports:

  • The current labor force participation rate is 62.7%, which matches the lowest rate on record. The lowest rate on record was set in September 2014.
  • Since the beginning of the Great Recession (2008), only 943,000 more people are employed, but the number of individuals over the age of 16 has grown by 14,159,000.
  • Worker’s wages have stayed stagnated. In constant dollars (dollars adjusted for inflation), worker’s wages have actually decreased.
  • The Consumer Price Index has increased by 11.2% since President Obama took office, even with the price of energy dropping by almost half.

The article concludes:

The truth of the matter is that we have endured the worst economic recovery on record and much of it is due to President Obama’s policies. Even with the millions of new jobs that have been created and the fact that people’s confidence in the economy is increasing, we still have a long way to go to reach pre-recession economic levels and if President Obama keeps pushing his big government policies, we may never get there.

Somehow none of the above was mentioned in the State of the Union speech.

 

Some Good News and Bad News In The October Employment Numbers

Yesterday Investors.com posted an article about the employment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

The jobless rate is 5.8%, the lowest since June 2008. However, the Labor Force Participation Rate (the percentage of Americans of working age who are working) is at 62.8 percent, essentially flat since April according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Despite these relatively good numbers, consumer confidence is still low, Part of the reason for that is what has happened to Middle Income family income since 2007.

The article at Investors.com reports:

Real median household incomes fell 6.6% from $55,627 in 2007 to $51,939 at the end of last year. It will take years to recoup that loss. Meanwhile, male workers’ incomes have been in a tailspin for over a decade.

Private-sector wages grew 2% from last year in October — just barely ahead of the 1.7% rise in inflation.

So lack of opportunity stemming from 2% GDP growth and slow-growing family incomes have put average Americans in a sour mood.

The article at Investors.com further reports:

It’s policy failure. We and others repeatedly warned that President Obama’s massive stimulus, cheap money and heavy-handed regulation were a recipe for stagnation. That’s exactly what happened.

Each era of big government tinkering ends with the the economy being systematically run into the ground by Keynesian policymakers — and with economists pondering whether it’ll always be this way.

“Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” President Reagan famously asked in the 1980 campaign. Today, Americans seem to be saying no.

I hope the new Republican Congress will have the courage to encourage the President (strongly) to change direction.

The Unemployment Numbers Are Lying And This Is How We Got Here

On September 5, the Weekly Market Wrap at NASDAQ listed the unemployment rate at 6.1 percent.

The article also reported:

In economic news, in the week ending August 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims (unemployment benefits) was 302,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 298,000. The 4-week moving average was 302,750, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 299,750.

So we have an increase of unemployment claims, but an unemployment rate holding steady at 6.1 percent. How does the government do that? Easy–shrink the labor force so the percentage stays the same.

Today’s Washington Examiner reports:

It came as quite a disappointment last Friday when the Labor Department announced that the U.S. economy created only 142,000 net jobs in August. Even worse, this anemic number came with a downward revision of a combined net 28,000 jobs for the previous two months.

Now add to these a third unwelcome piece of news: The U.S. labor force participation rate — that is, the share of working-age Americans who are either working or seeking work — has returned to a multi-decade low of 62.8 percent, down from 65.9 percent before the recession. This number, which has been in a nosedive ever since the 2008 recession began, remains mired at levels that haven’t been seen since women began entering the workforce in large numbers. Fewer Americans are in the labor market today than at any point since 1978.

President Obama is not responsible for what happened before he took office, but his policies have resulted in the failure of the economy to rebound from the 2008 recession.

I apologize for the length of what is to follow, but every now and then I think it is a good idea to remember how we got here.

The recession is not President Obama’s fault; it is not President Bush’s fault; it is not the result of greedy bankers, capitalism, or Wall Street. It is the result of faulty government regulation. The recession was the result of the housing bubble–it’s roots go back to the 1977, when President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) passed by Congress. Congress had good intentions–the law was passed to help low-income families buy houses. The idea was to reduce discrimination in housing loans. In 1995 President Clinton modified the law–the idea was to make the paperwork easier to navigate and to make the CRA ratings of banks available to the public. The securitization of CRA loans (including subprime mortgages) began in 1997.  In 1999 Senators Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer worked on legislation that allowed the Federal Deposit Insurance Act  to allow banks to merge or expand into other types of financial institutions. Under pressure from political action groups, banks began issuing more subprime loans–selling them in groups in investment packages along with loans that had a better chance of being paid back.

In October 2000, Fannie Mae announced a pilot plan to purchase $2 billion of “MyCommunityMortgage” loans. The pilot lenders agreed to customize affordable products for low and moderate-income borrowers. There is nothing wrong with the intention here, but it is not a good idea to lend money unless you have a reasonable expectation of getting it back. The increase in loans caused the price of housing to rise faster than the rate of inflation (which is traditionally the rate of the rise of housing costs). Companies began offering ‘interest only’ and ‘variable interest’ loans so that people could make lower payments on larger houses while the value of their houses increased.  Banks were forced to issued subprime mortgages or pay large penalties to the government. Fannie Mae prospered because it made more loans and sold them. It’s executives raked in amazing amounts of money. The companies writing the subprime mortgages wrote sweetheart mortgage loans to their friends in Congress. In 2004, 92 percent of the loans issued by Fannie Mae were variable-interest- rate loans; in 2005, 91 percent were variable-interest-rate loans. Fannie Mae guaranteed the mortgages they granted and sold them to banks and investors. Home ownership and home prices continued to rise. Then, in 2004, interest rates began to rise, and gasoline prices climbed. In 2007 the subprime mortgage market collapsed because low-income families could not pay their mortgages. Foreclosures increased. There were no buyers. Home prices began to drop. By September of 2008, twelve banks had failed during that year because of worthless government securities issued by Fannie Mae.

So did anyone try to stop this runaway train? Yes. In 2003, President Bush proposed legislation to overhaul the housing finance industry. The President wanted to create a new agency within the Treasury Department to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Democrats in Congress blocked the legislation, saying it might interfere with the ability of low-income families to buy homes. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, stated, “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.” Melvin Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, stated, “…and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing.” In 2005, John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, warned of an upcoming mortgage collapse. He sponsored the Housing Enterprise Regulatory Act of 2005 (www.govtrack.us Bill S-190). The purpose of the bill was to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Democrats blocked the bill. The bill was reintroduced in 2007. Again, it was blocked by members of the Senate who had received benefits from the companies involved in the subprime scandal. Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, had received a sweetheart loan from one of the companies. Jim Johnson, a key member of the Obama campaign team, also received a sweetheart loan from Countrywide Mortgage. From 1991 through 1998, Jim Johnson was the CEO of Fannie Mae. Johnson received $21 million during his tenure there.

The original intent of the CRA was good. It is a wonderful idea to give everyone an opportunity to buy a home. Unfortunately, the expansion of the CRA had the exact opposite effect. Because the government interfered in the free market, a bubble was created. Expectations of what a house should be changed during that time. In the 1960’s and 1970’s there was the concept of a ‘starter home.’ A starter home was usually a relatively inexpensive small house that was affordable, and the equity gained while living there could be used to buy a larger house after a couple started a family. That concept is gone. Look around. What are people building in your neighborhood? The housing bubble reflected a change in what Americans expect in housing. We have lost our moorings for the sake of conspicuous consumption. There is nothing wrong with owning a large home, but we need to balance our wishes with our income; otherwise, America will drown in personal debt as well as federal debt.

The Real Unemployment Story Under President Obama

This is a chart of the labor participation rate since 2004:

The chart is from an article posted Friday at Doug Ross @ Journal. As you can see from the chart, the rate was a pretty solid 66 percent for the years 2004 through 2008. It began to drop in 2009 and has continued downward. The current low unemployment rate was obtained by not counting the people who have dropped out of the labor force.  As you can see, there have been a lot of them since 2009. The bottom line here is simple–the economy is not recovering at this time. It is limping along and will be further limited by the President’s war on coal and other environmental decisions.

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Recovery???

Yesterday the Washington Times posted an editorial about President Obama’s request to extend unemployment benefits for another three months. The original extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks occurred in 2008, at the height of the recession. According to the Obama Administration, the recession ended in the summer of 2009. So why do people still need two years of unemployment benefits?

The editorial reminds us:

Since the Great Recession began in 2008, Congress has supplemented the 26 weeks of jobless benefits traditionally provided by the states, extending them to 99 weeks.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be an issue because such extensions have been temporary, but Mr. Obama’s economy has spawned a jobless “recovery,” and more workers continue to join the unemployment line.

Democrats see this not as an opportunity to reconsider the failure of Obamanomics, but as an excuse to spend another $25 billion. The Senate will vote this week on a three-month extension with a $6.5 billion price tag.

…There’s a negative consideration to extending unemployment subsidies time after time. A 2008 Princeton University study comes to the obvious conclusion that workers are much more aggressive in their job searches as their benefits near the end, “increasing sharply in the weeks prior to benefit exhaustion.”

Alan B. Krueger, a former chairman of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, was a co-author of the report. A Swedish study, finished in 2008 as well, concluded that more generous unemployment benefits increased unemployment rates. The linkage, it said, is “fairly robust.”

The year before, Sweden reformed its unemployment compensation system, such that recipients could receive up to 60 weeks of benefits, but with a catch. The longer someone is unemployed, under the new program, the less he receives in assistance.

The diminishing benefits have been a powerful inducement to look for work.

Unfortunately, extending unemployment benefits has become a political issue, which means that no one is considering whether or not it will actually help or hurt the country or the economy. Until Congress includes enough patriots who want to do what is right for the country, we can expect to have more political gamesmanship on this and other issues.

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Where Has All The Money Gone?

Below is a chart posted by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air today:

fred-dc-usa-medianincome

The chart above shows the median household income of the Washington, D.C., area versus the median household income of the rest of the nation.

The article at Hot Air points out a few things about the graph:

From the mid-1980s to around 2007, the median household income rise in DC remained pretty closely linked to that of the nation as a whole.  Anyone remember what happened in 2007, besides the economic slowdown that would turn into the Great RecessionDemocrats took control of Congress and federal spending shot upward ever since.  And at least according to the Fed, that disparity is actually accelerating,  at least to 2012, with DC median income skyrocketing while the rest of us stagnate.

We have a choice to make as Americans. It’s not a Democrat or a Republican choice–it’s an American choice. Do we keep spending ourselves into bankruptcy or do we begin to act like adults and live within our means? The choice is ours. We have an election coming up in about a year. Forget party labels–they really aren’t worth much right now. Find out what the candidate’s position is on spending and formulating a federal budget (we haven’t had one since 2009). Find our what the candidate’s past voting record is on fiscal matters. These things are not hard to find. Thomas.gov is an excellent source of information for votes, sponsors of legislation, and actions of past Congresses. Do your homework–your country depends on it.

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Some Pictures From The Latest Jobs Report

On August 29, Breitbart.com posted a story about the current labor force participation rate. The chart below tells the story:

Although the unemployment numbers look good, they don’t tell the whole story:

The labor force participation rate is the lowest it has been in 34 years.

The article at Breitbart contains this rather chilling quote:

“Following the Great Recession, we’ve entered into the Great Shift,” says Express Employment Professionals CEO Bob Funk, who previously served as chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. “This is a period defined by the Boomer retirement, Millennial frustration, and growing reliance on government programs. All indicators suggest this shift is not sustainable.” (emphasis mine)

The economic policies of the Obama Administration have not worked. If President Obama will not reverse them, we need to elect people who will. Our future depends on it.

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