Last week America got what, superficially, looked like a positive jobs report. Unfortunately, the small decline in the unemployment rate from that jobs report had more to do with the labor participation rate hitting a 30-year low than any real economic growth.
But the Obama administration would like you to know that all those citizens leaving the labor pool is a good thing. Because they could be going into college or something.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that the number of people dropping out of the work force, which artificially depresses the unemployment rate, can be regarded as an “economic positive.”
“A lot of that is due to younger people getting more of an education, which is an economic positive,” Carney said. He had been asked what would happen when people “inevitably” raise the unemployment rating with their return to the work force.
He also noted that “an aging population” going into retirement has contributed to the number of people dropping out of the work force.
Carney suggested that the focus on the number of people dropping out of the work force is politically motivated.
Well of course the President’s political opposition is going to point out problems in these labor reports. That’s how politics work.
As to the White House spin, does anyone really think that adding more students to the nation’s already bloated colleges is going to be advantageous to the economy in the long run? We don’t have a shortage of college-educated workers. We have a shortage of jobs, created by expensive government we can’t afford putting obstacles between we citizens and the sort of commerce that creates prosperity and jobs.
Unfortunately, the President is going to see some political advantage from what the public perceives (thanks to superficial media coverage of a superficially positive jobs report) as an improving economy:
President Obama will benefit because the media will fail to note that the Obama administration promised that the unemployment rate today would be approximately 5.8 percent – not 8.3 percent — if the $800 billion stimulus package were passed.
He will benefit because interviewers like Lauer will fail to ask the president whether the unemployment rate will be below 5.5 percent — as promised – by Election Day.
He will benefit because commentators will ignore the fact that even if 250,000 jobs were created every month from now to the election, the unemployment rate will still hover near 8 percent.
He will benefit because no reporter will ask the president to explain why the labor participation rate has fallen to an abysmal 63.7 percent, the lowest level in three decades.
It’s an election year, so of course perception matters more than reality.