Commentary Magazine


Contentions

More Evidence of a Weak Economy

The Department of Labor releases the unemployment figures tomorrow morning. But here is a noteworthy economic finding. Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.1 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January. The 0.5-percentage-point increase in February compared with January is the largest such month-to-month change Gallup has recorded in its not-seasonally adjusted measure since December 2010.

There’s more. In addition to the 9.1 percent of workers who are unemployed, 10.0 percent are working part time but want full-time work. (This  percentage is higher than the 9.6 percent of February 2011.) As a result, in February Gallup’s underemployment measure, which combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed and the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work, increased to 19.1 — or almost one in five people.

Gallup concludes, “Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures show a substantial deterioration since mid-January.”

The president’s hopes for re-election hinge on the economy getting significantly stronger, not weaker, between now and November. We’ll see what tomorrow’s Bureau of Labor Statistics job report brings. But based on Gallup’s findings, David Axelrod might want to keep the corks in the champagne bottle.