The Labor Department's official unemployment numbers were released on Friday. A disappointing 96,000 jobs were created during the month of August, compared to 163,000 in July, and 80,000 in June. Some will try to spin this number as a sign of progress, pointing to a 0.2% decrease in the unemployment rate as a sign that things are getting better for American workers. However, as with all statistics, it's important to take a look behind the numbers before popping the cork on the champagne bottle.
In July, when the economy created 163,000 jobs, the unemployment rate increased from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent. How then could the unemployment rate decrease in August when even less private sector jobs were created? That question is answered when we look at the number of workers who were so discouraged by the Obama economy that they dropped out of the workforce altogether. A staggering 368,000 Americans ceased looking for employment during the month of August, so the government no longer counts them among the "unemployed." We don't know what happened to those 368,000 workers, but we do know that they didn't find work, they're not earning a paycheck, and they're not supporting themselves.
The labor participation rate--the percentage of able-bodied American adults who are working or looking for work--is now a meager 63.5 percent. That means 36.5 percent of able-bodied Americans have lost hope in finding a job in the Obama economy. If the current labor participation rate was the same as before the recession started, the unemployment rate would stand at 11.6 percent.
The last four years have seen broken promise after broken promise, and the President's policies have consistently failed to deliver the results that the American people expect and deserve. But despite these resounding failures, the President continues to ignore the facts and claims, as he did in July, that "we tried our plan, and it worked." It is a good bet that the 23,104,000 Americans who are currently unemployed, working part time because no full time work is available, or have given up looking for work altogether might tend to disagree with the President's self-analysis.
The President and his Democratic allies' failed policies have squandered precious resources, but provided little assistance to an American population struggling to recover from a crippling recession. We've seen 43 straight months of 8 percent or higher unemployment, our national debt just topped $16 trillion, and hundreds of thousands of Americans each month are losing hope of finding suitable employment.
Last week, the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness rating reiterated what struggling Americans have known for quite some time. The President's policies have made us less competitive in the global marketplace and hampered our economic growth. In 2008, the United States was ranked as the most competitive nation in the world. By last year we had fallen to 5th place. This year, we stumbled to 7th. America cannot afford to continue this trend.
What is to be done to reverse this Democrat-inspired decline in competitiveness and job creation? The United States Senate has the power to quickly pass the more than 30 job-creating bills introduced by Republicans and passed by the House of Representatives. Among those currently sitting on Harry Reid's desk are bills to cut, cap, and balance our budget; to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic energy production; to provide tax cuts for small businesses; and to eliminate job-crushing bureaucratic regulations. The President could also end the threat of the forecasted fiscal cliff--the combination of expiring tax cuts and the draconian defense cuts that will result from sequestration--if he would press Senate leaders to advance bills already passed by the House of Representatives. Presidential leadership can go a long way toward influencing the legislative agenda. Unfortunately, this President appears too distracted by other priorities these days to be troubled with ensuring the viability of the American economy.