As the Obama administration and the news media try to paint a rosy picture of the economy by pointing to the jobs added to the economy in November, some key federal numbers show a darker picture.
Although the economy did add 211,000 jobs, the number is dwarfed by the numbers of Americans who have simply given up looking for a job.
More than 94.4 million Americans are neither working or looking for work, a number down marginally in November from October and down slightly from September, when a record 94.6 million Americans were not even trying to participate in the workforce.
For men, the news was worse. November set a record high of 38.15 million men 16 years and older not participating in the labor force. The participation rate for men dipped to 68.6 percent, which is the lowest number ever recorded for men since Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the rate in 1948. At that time, the participation rate for men was 87.7 percent. The overall labor force participation rate for November was 62.5 percent, up slightly from past months but still down at levels not seen in America since the 1970’s.
Analyst James Sherk noted that the labor force participation reflects the lingering effects of the 2008 recession.
“When millions of people would like to be employed, but have given up on finding work, the official unemployment rate understates the weakness of the labor market. It omits millions of potential workers who have become so discouraged that they have stopped job searching,” he wrote.
He continued, “The labor market remains weak not because of layoffs—which have sunk to pre-recession levels—but because job creation and new hiring have fallen.”
“The government’s responses have been ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. The stimulus provided little if any boost to the economy and will depress the economy in future years…Congress can do nothing about the lingering effects of the housing bubble and European economic woes that continue to hold back the economy, but Congress can reduce the tax and regulatory burden it imposes on businesses,” Sherk wrote.
The November report comes near a figure used by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump last month.
“You have 100 million people that would like to be working. And they’re not,” Trump told a crowd in Newton, Iowa.
“If you’re looking for a job and you quit after three or four months, you just can’t find a job, you go into that group of 100 million people that are sort of in there with you to a large extent,” Trump said, noting that those not on the books as officially looking for work are not counted in the nation’s unemployment rate.
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.