Friday’s job numbers from the Department of Labortold a grim tale about the first 30 months of the Obama administration.
As President Barack Obama reminds voters constantly, the economy did not originally deteriorate on his watch, and that’s true. Yet the rise in the unemployment rate once again to 9.2 percent should put the final nail in the coffin of Obama’s economic stimulus strategy.
Having thrown nearly a trillion dollars at the economic mess, nearly every penny of which is spent, the president now finds himself facing continued deterioration with no end in sight. Having run up an unsustainable debt in the hope of creating lasting jobs in the United States, Obama finds himself out of ammunition and with no clear plan to forge ahead.
The American economy created only 18,000 jobs in June, not nearly enough to keep up with the number of young Americans and immigrants seeking new jobs. To make matters worse, the number of jobs created in the previous two months was revised downward by nearly three times that number. The industries one might expect would have benefited most from stimulus spending — construction and manufacturing — showed no growth. The stimulus is over, and it has failed.
The unemployment rate only measures the share of Americans without jobs who are actively seeking them, and so it understates the gravity of the situation. More and more Americans have simply stopped looking for work. Labor-force participation among working-age Americans has fallen to a 27-year low of 64.1 percent. Employed people now make up only 58.2 percent of the working-age civilian population, matching the 28-year low that was briefly achieved last year. In other words, the current state of the economy is prompting more and more American workers to take a forced early retirement or make other plans that don’t involve trying to find jobs.
It is likely that Obama’s policies — particularly his alliance with organized labor, his denunciation of business lenders and his attempts to steer the economy in a “green” direction more to his liking and less in line with market demand — have made matters worse. But what we can say with great certainty is that Obama’s stimulus has failed to achieve anything except a massive waste of taxpayer money and record federal deficits. To Obama’s claims that things would be much worse without the stimulus, it’s dubious and impossible to verify.
Like the two stimulus packages of his Republican predecessor, Obama’s stimulus has achieved nothing and at great cost. The next time politicians get bright ideas about stimulating market demand by creating make-work jobs and handing out cash as if there is no limit on what the federal government can spend, American voters should hold up the current example of failure and resist accordingly.