Many experts have noted that the “good news” regarding the unemployment rate reported on Monday has to be tempered with the realization that the number was artificially low. So many people have grown discouraged regarding job prospects that they are no longer looking for jobs.They have dropped out of the “workforce” and are therefore no longer considered as “unemployed” for purposes of the unemployment rate.
This is bad news – and the longer they are unemployed, the poorer are their prospects of getting rehired. Their personal finances suffer, as does their ability to pay off debts, including mortgages. Leave it for the spin artists at the White House to have the temerity to consider people leaving the work force to be an “economic positive”.
John Hayward at Human Events deservedly ridicules the White House spin and also asks a good question: why doesn’t the mainstream media bother to report such an absurd statement? First he excepts a report from the Washington Examiner:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that the number of people dropping out of the work force, which artificially depresses the unemployment rate, can be regarded as an “economic positive.”
“A large percentage of that is due to younger people getting more education, which in the end is an economic positive,” Carney said. “This increase in the number of people leaving the work force has been a trend and a fact since 2000, because of an aging population, which is not to say this is wholly — that’s not to say that I would wholly disregard as an issue.” Carney had been asked about the 19 million underemployed or unemployed Americans, and about people who had left the work force.
“I think some of those who, I suppose, don’t wish us well politically have tried to make a point about this,” he also said. “The facts are that in these most recent numbers, this is not an issue of people leaving the work force; the numbers are positive across the board.”
Then he notes a problem with Carney’s spin:
And as for his pulled-from-the-trousers claim that our workforce has collapsed under Barack Obama because young people want to stay in college… isn’t this the same Administration that has been loudly complaining about the size of U.S. student loan debt? Where is the evidence that the wildly inflated tuition paid to keep kids in school for all those extra years is producing a more valuable work force? How can you square that claim with all the billions Obama thinks we urgently need to spend on job training?
Also, the current unemployment rate for ages 20 to 24 is 13.3 percent, while it’s 9 percent for ages 25 to 34. Those rates are much higher than the national average of 8.3 percent. If the bulk of the people dropping out of the workforce completely were coming from those age cohorts, their unemployment rate would be much lower.
This is reminiscent, of course, of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that “unemployment benefits” create jobs and that they are indeed the “fastest way” to create jobs.
This administration and its political allies need to come up with better narratives; even better would be coming up with better policies.
Furthermore, why isn’t the media reporting this foolishness and insensitivity? Are the journalists too busy looking for chances to take potshots at Republicans?