I wanted to add to John’s post regarding today’s Labor Department report on unemployment.
Right now we’re nowhere near where we need to be in order to make a significant dent in the unemployment rate. (To bring it down a percentage point over a year takes roughly 200,000 additional jobs per month.) In addition, unemployment has been at or above 9 percent for 28 out of the last 30 month, with no relief in sight. The Obama administration not only promised the unemployment wouldn’t exceed 8 percent if its stimulus package passed; based on their projections, the unemployment rate today should be right around 6.5 percent.
Rex Nutting, a columnist and MarketWatch’s international commentary editor, points out that the economy is creating jobs so slowly that at the current pace of hiring (an average of 119,000 jobs per month in 2011), the unemployment rate would stay stuck at 9 percent for five more years. The pace of hiring is so weak, in fact, that the economy wouldn’t get back to full employment (around 6 percent) until 2023. If we hope to bring the jobless rate back down to 6 percent by the end of 2014, we’d need job growth about twice as strong as it’s been (244,000 a month v. 119,000).
It’s reasonable to assume that Mr. Obama will face re-election with the highest unemployment rate of any post-war president. If the current rate of hiring continues, under Mr. Obama’s stewardship the nation will have actually lost jobs, a stunning achievement in its own way. Indeed, Obama is now on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era. The unemployment rate will be significantly higher than when he took office. Chronic unemployment is worse than it was during the Great Depression. And during the Obama presidency the United States saw its bond rating downgraded for the first time in history.
Mr. Obama will have shattered all the records when it comes to the deficit and the debt. For example, under Obama the budget deficit and federal debt have reached their highest percentage since World War II. The same is true when it comes to federal spending as a percentage of GDP. During the post-recession period from June 2009 to June 2011, the median annual household income fell by 6.7 percent – a more substantial decline than occurred during the Great Recession. The Christian Science Monitor points out, “The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the U.S. government began recording it five decades ago.” The housing crisis is worse than the Great Depression. Home values worth one-third less than they were five years ago. The home ownership rate is the lowest since 1965. The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty has seen a record increase on President Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty. And government dependency, defined as the percentage of persons receiving one or more federal benefit payments, is the highest in American history.
The degree of responsibility Mr. Obama has for all of this varies. And there’s no question he took office facing difficult circumstances. On the other hand, the president himself promised us that virtually every indicator listed above would be better, much better, if only we followed his counsel and implemented his policies. He cannot escape either his words or his record. And of course during the 2008 campaign Mr. Obama showed no charity when it came to blaming Republicans for every bad thing that happened on their watch. So he certainly can’t expect to be treated with a different standard than he used. Because that would be unfair and hypocritical, wouldn’t it?
President Obama’s economic record is the worst of any president since Herbert Hoover. His sheer ineptitude may even exceed that of Jimmy Carter. He has failed on front after front, year after year. His job is to convince us he deserves a second term.