One would think, upon reading an Associated Press story headlined "Payrolls up 431,000, lifted by census hiring," that the news contained in Uncle Sam's Employment Situation report today was at least pretty decent (link is to screen cap of the AP's brief 8:53 a.m report, saved for fair use and discussion purposes; it was replaced by a longer report a short time later).
Far from it. The content in Jeannine Aversa's report is virtually all downbeat. Here are a few key snippets:
• "The unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent as people gave up searching for work."
• "Many private employers are wary of bulking up their work forces."
• "That (employer wariness) indicates the economic recovery can only plod along and won't have the energy to quickly bring relief to millions of unemployed Americans."
• "... hiring by private employers, the backbone of the economy, slowed sharply."
Net Census Bureau hiring of 411,000 employees accounted for over 95% of the May increase.
Consider this a "reap what you sow" moment for Team Obama.
In February, Vice President Joe Biden made a startling admission about the stimulus boondoggle passed 12 months earlier when he told CBS that its "job-creating portions are really loaded in the second half" of the program, i.e., its second year. Besides tacitly admitting to apathy about the awful climb in jobless that occurred in the first year (this from the "party of compassion"?), Biden built up an expectation that the situation would improve in the coming months.
Well, that certainly hasn't happened yet. Today's result, four months into Year 2, shows that the stimulus package hasn't stimulated much of anything. Across-the-board reductions in federal marginal income tax rates and a capital gains cut would have worked their economy-growing, job-creating "magic" long ago, but an administration fixated on redistribution wouldn't even consider those measures.
Beyond that, there's the omnipresent FUD factor. Since Election Night 2008, and arguably several months before that, this administration has specialized in creating Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt among businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and investors. It has "succeeded" marvelously. The business community doesn't know what to expect in taxation, energy policy, or financial regulation. Beyond that, it has seen thuggish rhetoric and behavior directed at disfavored creditors of General Motors and Chrysler during their respective bankruptcy proceedings, oil companies, and bankers, up to and including home visits by the Purple People Beaters at the SEIU.
No wonder private employers aren't hiring as many new employees as one might expect at this stage of the recovery, such as it is.
As long as what the Wall Street Journal last November referred to as "The Uncertainty Economy" continues, job growth will continue to disappoint, if not disappear. All the deceptive AP headlines in the world won't change that.