With the release of the July unemployment figures, on August 5, 2016 with the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.9%, the White House is touting cherry-picked numbers to give an impression of success. But political talking points often fail to connect with the reality Americans live with every day.
There is no question that official unemployment figures are down (U-3). But the oft quoted figure fails to show the struggles that are the daily life for many in the nation. The U-6, which stands at a hair under double the official unemployment rate at 9.7%, conveys both those without a job and those that cannot get full-time employment. The difference is more than arbitrary, as many who cannot get full time work seek Government aid. In fact it is because of the high rate of the U-6 that some 162 million Americans are getting Government aid. That figure exceeds the number of Americans in the workforce by 11 million Americans.
That alone makes the comments by the White House farcical. Rather than address the reality, the White House has chosen to view the economy via a rose-colored microscope to bolster the legacy of President Obama and the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. The White House released a statement that say in part,
“U.S. businesses have now added 15.0 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010, and the longest streak of total job growth on record continued in July.”
That sounds great. But it completely ignores the overwhelming amount of data showing job growth is not keeping up with the needs of the nation: [data from Bureau of Labor Statistics]
While these figures are important, they did not meet the muster of the White House. Reality is not nearly as important as a positive message in an election year. Highlighting that the universally accepted engine of job growth – self employment – is decreasing and thus a long-term problem for the nation, does not win elections nor gain positive historical review. Thus the public is quoted data that makes no sense out of context.
“So far in 2016, job growth has averaged a solid 186,000 jobs a month, well above the pace needed to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate…” – White House, August 5, 2016
186,000 jobs a month sounds impressive, when it is isolated and out of context. But that happens when it is put in context? Like when the average number of new jobs to keep up with population growth is added to the sentence. The sentence would become:
So far in 2016, job growth has averaged a solid 186,000 jobs a month, (short by 34,000 jobs/month needed to keep up with population growth which is 220,000 per month) well above the pace needed to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate…
In context the boast by the White House sounds incredulous. They are touting a shortfall. They are cheering a failure. Which only can be done by keeping the information out of context and ignoring critical date that creates a clear snapshot of the economic health of the nation. Scouring the economic data of the nation can always provide some figure that will be positive, but that does not mean it reflects the nation.
It is a fact that America is better off than the worst days of the recession, but that does not mean America is healthy. The proof is that the Obama Administration is the first to NEVER have a year of 3% GDP growth. A historical fact the White House is desperate to avoid discussing. A fact that, in combination with the complete picture of employment data, shows failure.
Cherry-picked data, obscuring facts, and a microscopic view of the nation may help to preserve votes in an election year, yet the average American will not find it easier to pay a single bill. That’s the honest snapshot.