Economic Stagnation...Long-Term?

The president boasts that the recovery is going great when his own Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates otherwise. The brag will now be that the unemployment rate is all the way down to 6.7% and falling. That rate used to be determined by the number of people looking for jobs. Today, it's figured on the number of people who have quit looking for work, a political expediency for an administration presiding over an economic debacle.

The BLS also figures the ACTUAL unemployment rate based on the unemployed, under-employed and the discouraged, those who have quit the job-search, having discovered the dearth of jobs. That rate—the actual picture—is called the U-6 rate by the BLS and stands at 13.1%, nearly double the propaganda-rate the administration uses, and will keep rising. During the throes of the Great Depression in 1937, the actual unemployment rate (people desperately seeking work) stood minimally higher at 14.3%, though the average during 1932-40 was 19.1%. The nation seems headed in that direction.

In the week ending January 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted unemployment initial claims was 330,000, according to the BLS. Only 74,000 jobs (70,000 of which in retail & wholesale trade) were created in December 2013 (1,480 per state). The conclusion to be drawn is obvious.

Exacerbating the problem are the 1.3 million unemployed who lost their benefits on 28 December – $1,166 per month. If Congress does not act, another 3.6 million could lose benefits by the end of 2014. At the height of the recession, not over despite Obama's claims, benefits could be claimed for 99 weeks, or nearly two years. The limit currently is 73 weeks.

According to BLS statistics, the employment-to-population ratio now of workers age 16 and older is the same as that of 1975 – 57.7. The ratio in 2001 was about 64. The population has increased by 44% while the job situation is the same as that of 38 years ago. The trend is obvious and the current mark has held steady since 2009, when Obama took office.

According to the Department of Numbers (contextualizes public data), there were 136,877,000 jobs in December 2013. In January 2008, there were 138,056,000 jobs, indicating a six-year loss of some 1.2 million jobs. At December's job-growth rate, it would take 16 years to get back that deficit, though one presumes that the future, while rather grim, is not quite that bleak.

In a televised floor-session on C-Span-2 on 09 January, Senate Majority Leader Reid told Senate Minority Leader McConnell that not one of the 20 amendments offered by republicans to a bill returning benefits to those who have just lost them would be taken up. Republicans are not against the benefits but insist that monies to fund them have to be found, thus their attempts at fiscal responsibility.

Reid seems to think the money can just be either printed or borrowed from China, giving democrats a wedge issue for an election year. He certainly has no solution to a problem that is nearing the tipping point. The citizens are caught in the cross-hairs of a petty quarrel fostered by a petty Majority Leader, whose only interest is in making republicans look mean, and posturing for November...beneath contempt

The greater tragedy is that the nation is becoming, ironically, a sort of plantation with the government as Simon Legree and the citizens divided into workers and non-workers. Gradually, everything—especially medical care at the moment—is being undertaken by Legree, who will make all decisions, with the understanding that the producers will cough up the wherewithal necessary for the survival of all.

This is called socialism, remarking the end of a great democratic, capitalistic experiment called the United States. Everything from the failed $787 billion stimulus and $700 billion TARP to the government takeover and bankrupting of General Motors and Chrysler has proven that using money, whether real or imagined, to solve every problem doesn't work, and that there's no such thing as a level playing field. The fat cats will rise to the top. Currently, half of all Congress-people, as well as the president, are millionaires who have interests to be protected.

Things will not improve soon. The pollsters indicate the near-total disrespect of Congress and the overwhelming disapproval of Obama's performance by the citizens. Until strong, wise, unselfish leaders appear, there's little hope.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark