The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its June unemployment figures: the jobless rate fell from 9.7% to 9.5% for the month of June. Good news, right? Well, no. Joblessness went down because 652,000 people simply gave up looking for work, and thus weren’t counted in the labor pool. If these people were still among those still actively job-searching, the unemployment rate would have shot up to 10.1%.
Private-sector payrolls added 83,000 new jobs in June; that’s better than May’s 41,000, though slower than the preceding two months. Unfortunately, in order to keep up with the number of young Americans newly joining the workforce, analysts calculate that we must add at least 100,000 jobs a month just to break even. Thus, despite the rate of private-sector hiring expansion having doubled from May to June, the expansion itself is so feeble that we’re still falling behind.
The numbers weren’t helped by the continuing re-entry into the job-search pool by former census workers, hundreds of thousands of whom were hired as federal temps in April (keeping that month’s jobless numbers artificially low) and who are now seeing their government jobs coming to an end. According to BLS, 225,000 census workers found themselves updating their résumés again last month alone.
For his part, President Obama is saying we’re “heading in the right direction”…and of course, as mentioned in the AP article linked above, is using the new numbers to push for yet another round of stimulus spending. In a Wisconsin speech this week, the President put his positive spin on the poor employment numbers thus: “Yes, but it’s not 12 or 13 or 15 [percent].” With all due respect, sir, that isn’t reassurance; it’s a lame rationalization.
As if this “well, it could be worse” excuse weren’t surreal enough, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now assures us that spending on unemployment benefits is “one of the biggest stimuluses [sic] to our economy” and “creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative.” No word yet on what we must assume is Speaker Pelosi’s next logical step: her impending proposal to fire everybody in the country and cut every American a $10,000 unemployment check every week for the rest of our lives, thus solving the economic crisis entirely!
In the midst of all of this past week’s rotten economic news – the unemployment numbers, a larger-than-expected drop in factory orders, consumer confidence sinking, losses on the Dow Jones index of more than 400 points over six consecutive sessions – where is John Hall? Is he on board with a third stimulus package, as he was with the first two failed ones? Does he agree with Nancy Pelosi that our unemployment checks are the answer to our prayers? Finally, does he agree with the President that we’re headed in the right direction, despite all outward appearances?
We all can only hope not.