The latest unemployment numbers would, at first glance, appear to be good news for the economy, but the decline continues to hide an inconvenient truth for the Obama administration. An additional percentage, however, is all that one needs to factor in to shatter the illusion that the latest fall in unemployment is a positive indicator of the nation’s economic health and, by extension, the success of the current administration’s policies.
At its most basic level, the definition of the country’s unemployment rate is the percentage of working-age Americans who are out of a job. If that percentage falls, then it would appear to be good news. There is a catch, however; one very significant number is being deliberately ignored by those who tout the declining percentage as being a good thing, and that number is the workforce participation rate.
The workforce – or labor force – participation rate is measured as the percentage of people who are working or who are not working, but actively seeking employment. The one factor which indicates that the economy is not improving is the fact that the labor force participation rates has declined since the start of 2009. Generally, in the United States, the workforce – as a percentage of the total population – hovers around 67 to 68 percent. For reference; the workforce participation rate was 66.1 percent in January, 2004. In October, 2008, the rate was 66 percent. By December of that year, it had slipped to 65.8 percent. With the exception of just one or two months, that rate has declined continuously since then and, as of September 2014, it stood at just 62.7 percent – by far, the lowest it has been in at least 10 years. These source for these numbers is the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the figures are current as of October 3.
So, what do these numbers indicate? Simply put, they show that a growing number of people continue to leave the workforce; they have either retired or simply given up looking for work. Although it should be pointed out that “baby boomers” are starting to retire, the decline in the size of the workforce has been alarmingly precipitous and cannot merely be attributed to retirees. In addition, a record number of Americans now receive welfare. The percentage of Americans on welfare has not been calculated, by the Department of Health and Human Services, prior to 1993. The number of welfare recipients rose steadily from 2000 to 2008 and then rose much more sharply in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 – at which point, it was at the highest level ever recorded: 23.1 percent. Whilst the HHS has not released figures for 2012 through 2013, presumably out of embarrassment – figures from the Census Bureau indicate that, as of the end of 2012, a mind-blowing 35.4 percent of Americans were receiving welfare.
Now it becomes clear what happened to all those who continue to abandon the workforce. Yet, the Liberal media – along with the Obama administration and the Democratic Party – continue to tell us that this President has done great things and that the economy has been steadily recovering, since Obama has been in office. The decline in the unemployment rate may, at first glance, look hopeful, but the inconvenient truth for the party that has exerted its control over Congress for the past five years and, particularly, for its leader in the White House, is that the most significant achievement of the Obama administration is the destruction of the American labor force and the creation of a society in which more than one-third of the people are dependent upon assistance.
Opinion by Graham J Noble