Tag Archives: joblessness

Jobless rate falls; look for the critics to chime in


The U.S. Department of Labor has just released its latest job report.

The nation added 178,000 private-sector jobs in November. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent. Both numbers were better than economists had forecasted.

Good news, yes? Well, not exactly. That depends on a single political factor, or so it seems: your political persuasion.

President Barack Obama has overseen an astounding string of consecutive months with job growth: the count now stands at 81 months. When he took office in January 2009, the nation was shedding three-quarters of a million jobs a month; we were in the midst of that worldwide economic/financial collapse, if memory serves.

Jobs are up.

The jobless rate is down to 4.6 percent. That’s the lowest since the days of the Clinton administration.

Good news, yes?


Hold on! Not quite. Obama critics cite something called the “workplace participation rate.” That includes a metric that measures the number of people looking for work. When the jobless rate falls to this kind of level, the critics suggest that’s a symptom of folks who no longer are “participating” in the job search.

Thus, the good news becomes bad news … according to the critics.

There used to be a time when you could measure joblessness and economic health using the number of jobs being created and the rate of unemployment.

Jobs are up. Joblessness is down.

That’s no longer good enough.

My head is spinning.

Still trying to grasp the ‘problem’ with the economy


I must need to crack open a few economics books.

The U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs numbers this past Friday and they came in quite well.

The economy added 255,000 non-farm private-sector jobs; the unemployment rate remains at 4.9 percent. The jobs figures helped stimulate the stock market as investors — for a day at least — demonstrated confidence in the economy. The economy has added 14 million jobs since Barack Obama became president.

Is that bad news? Really?

But then we hear the politicians.

The economy stinks, they say. Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is leading the gloom-doom amen chorus by telling us how “incompetent” the government has been during the past eight years.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of course, kept up the mantra during his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Too much wealth belongs to too few Americans, he said. We have to spread it around, he said; we have to break up those big banks.

I keep hearing how “terrible” the economy is doing. What I hear, though, doesn’t quite match up with what I see.

I live in a section of Amarillo, Texas, that is undergoing a significant business and residential expansion. My wife and I drive north and south all the time along Coulter Street and are amazed at the transformation we’ve witnessed during the two decades we’ve lived here.

We joked just this weekend about how we had moved into our newly built house in late 1996 when it literally was one block from the edge of urban civilization. Everything west of us was pasture land. That’s it! Cattle grazed a block from our front door.

Today? We see nothing but rooftops for as to the horizon.

Businesses are springing up like the crab grass that envelops fescue lawns in this part of the world.

OK, I get that the economic recovery could be stronger. I read the economists’ reports telling us of their concern that the economy could tank at any moment.

None of this, though, matches up with what I’m seeing in this city where we live.

What in the world am I missing?

What will president say about his tenure


President Obama vows a different kind of State of the Union speech.

Such events usually involve a lengthy laundry list of policy proposals. Frankly, they bore the daylights out of me.

I prefer loftier rhetoric for these events.

What might the president say? The pessimists have laid down their marker. The country is going to hell; we’re in danger of being attacked; the economic recovery isn’t as good as it should be; most Americans think we’re heading along the “wrong track.”

My hunch is that Barack Obama is going to sound significantly more optimistic. To wit:

  • We’ve added millions of new jobs over the past seven years.
  • Joblessness has been cut in half.
  • The budget deficit, which was more than $1 trillion annually when Obama took office, has been cut by more than half.
  • Automakers, the housing industry and financial institutions are back.
  • Stocks are way up (the recent correction notwithstanding).
  • We’re still the most powerful nation on Earth . . . by a long shot.
  • We haven’t been attacked by a terrorist group.
I’m not naïve to think there are no problems. Yes, the Middle East remains a powder keg. Then again, when has it not been?
Barack Obama will have much on which to hang his hat by the time he leaves office.
But he’s not going to assuage the critics. Not for a second.

Economy now off the table for 2016 campaign?

Let’s allow this declaration: Barring an unexpected collapse that could occur at any moment, the state of the nation’s economy will not be an issue in the 2016 campaign for president of the United States.

The Labor Department released more job numbers today. They’re good.

The economy added 252,000 jobs in December; unemployment fell from 5.8 percent to 5.6 percent.


Is it a perfect score? No. Wages took a slight dip in December, compared to the substantial growth they showed the previous month.

Republican contenders for the White House, though, are going to have to look beyond our borders for issues to toss against Democrats — namely against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Those opportunities aren’t going to be that easy to exploit against the former secretary of state, former U.S. senator, former first lady and prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The economy? Well, I’ve noted before how the Obama administration took bold steps early on to stop the free fall it inherited when Barack Obama took the presidential oath on Jan. 20, 2009.

The economy is picking up considerable steam now.

The war on terror? It’s still going on. Yes, the president said the “war on terror is over.” He misspoke. The nation continues to hunt down killers, who continue to strike at innocent victims, such as those most recently in Paris.

Let’s face this cold, harsh fact: The war on terror is unlike any war we’ve ever fought. There will be no way to declare victory. The 9/11 attacks brought forward what intelligence analysts and deep-cover agents have known all along, that terrorists are out there plotting against us.

That fight will go on, and on, and on.

At home, though, the economy has recovered.

Economy has kicked into high(er) gear

What’s this? The nation’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 5 percent annually?

That’s the greatest increase in the GDP in 11 years. The economy not only has pulled itself back from the abyss, it has kicked itself into high gear.


What were investors’ reaction? The Dow Jones Industrial Average today closed at more than 18,000 points for the first time in history. The S&P set another record. Investors are happy. My own retirement account is making me happy again.

Here, though, is where I get confused.

I keep reading doomsayers lament the “wrong direction” the country allegedly is headed. Wrong direction.

The price of gasoline is down. Supply of fossil fuel is up. The United States is now the world’s No. 1 producer of petroleum. That’s one segment of the economy that’s looking up, and is getting the credit for the revised increase in the GDP.

You want more? The budget deficit has been cut by more than half. Remember the yammering of those who wondered whether the economic stimulus would bankrupt the Treasury? It didn’t happen. I consider myself a deficit hawk, so I view the reduction in the deficit as a positive sign that government spending is not hurtling out of control, as some have suggested.

Here’s another kick in the teeth to the naysayers. The most recent jobs report posted more than 300,000 added to the labor force. Even better is that wages are up. It was that pesky wage figure that kept fanning the flames of those who just couldn’t believe the economy had actually turned the corner.

The gloom-and-doom squad is continuing to outshout the other side.

I do not intend to let them get away with it so easily.




Big jobs numbers, but still no GOP applause

Critics of President Obama have been beating the drum for years about the economic recovery.

Yeah, nice jobs numbers, but those wages just aren’t increasing, they say, while lampooning the economic recovery as a sort of mirage.


Today’s news brought some serious good cheer to some of us, but not all.

The economy added 321,000 jobs in November. Wages increased 0.4 percent as well. The bottom line? The economy is finally beginning to be felt in people’s homes.

Will there be cheering among congressional critics of the president? Don’t hold your breath.

My hunch is that they’ll find a way to spread the joy among themselves without giving credit to a federal economic policy that’s been working for, oh, about the past five-plus years.

The stock market is heading into record territory — again. The trade deficit is down. The budget deficit is down. The national debt is slowing. Unemployment remains less than 6 percent. Investments are up. Spending is up. Real estate prices are up. Auto sales are up. Domestic energy production is up. Gasoline prices are plummeting.

Holy cow! I can’t stand all this good news!

I’ll just have to proclaim it from this forum yet again.


Silence on job growth is quite telling

That silence you hear from the Republican side of the political divide is quite instructive as the nation digests the latest job-growth numbers.

The Labor Department today reported that 248,000 jobs were added in September and that the jobless rate fell to less than 6 percent for the first time since 2008.

No cheers. No backslapping. No “congrats, you guys” are coming from the GOP gang.


Indeed, this morning — just before the jobs figures came out — Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary during the George W. Bush administration, disputed President Obama’s claim the other day that we’re better off now than when he took office in January 2009. Fleischer told Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe” that Obama inherited a “100-foot hole” but still has a “95-foot hole” from which the country must emerge.

What utter bunk!

The economy is growing. Every independent analyst I’ve read suggests the nation has turned the corner from where we were six years ago.

Of course, the task now is to keep marching forward and to keep the momentum going.

Today’s job numbers suggest we’re continuing to make progress.

I get that politics requires muzzles when the “other side” has good news to report. That’s the way the game is played. Democrats do it, too, when the news involved a Republican administration.

Rest assured that if the next job report isn’t as glowing as this one, the loyal opposition will awaken quickly from its silent slumber.

Time for economic shouting match

The economic naysayers keep winning the shouting match over the state of the economy.

I choose to listen a bit more intently to the other side, the folks who proclaim the nation’s economy is doing better than what many Americans think.


The latest job numbers provide reason for the positive thinkers to begin outshouting the other side.

The U.S. Labor Department announced Friday the economy added 217,000 jobs in May. Unemployment held steady at 6.3 percent; there used to be a time when that would be seen as “bad news,” but in this era it’s seen as an indication that more people are re-entering the job-search market, that hope is returning.

The May jobs boost comes after an April jobs increase that was even greater.

Why, then, do the goofballs who want the current administration’s economic policies to fail keep winning the argument?

My own guess is that they’re better at shouting over the opposition than, well, their opposition. Just maybe it’s time for those of us who do not share the Gloomy Gus outlook to begin shouting with a bit more fervor about the accomplishments that have occurred during the past six years.

I’ve tried to make the point on occasion from my own platform. It’s not getting much run out there. Surely there are others like myself who believe in a bit more optimistic future than the other side.

So, to whatever extent I can motivate the masses who share that view, I’m going to shout it out once more from this perch.

The U.S. economy is in recovery mode! We’ve gained back all the jobs we lost during the Great Recession of 2008-09! It ain’t perfect, but then again, when is it ever perfect?

Economy gives GOP reason to cheer Obama policies

I can sense it, sort of.

The Labor Department said today the economy created 203,000 jobs in October. The jobless rate fell to 7 percent, the lowest level in five years. The jobs report provided the first “clean” look at the state of the economy, according to Politico.com, meaning a report that wasn’t shaded by the government shutdown and other external political factors.

And … the Federal Reserve Board just might start dialing back its stimulus efforts with the realization that the economy is finally — finally! — gaining some actual strength.


What am I sensing? The Republican leadership in Congress might be willing to give President Obama a little bit of credit for what appears to be a full-blown economic recovery.

I say “might be willing.” Whether it happens is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps the most encouraging element of this report, if you’re a Republican, is that the Fed might start drawing back on the bond-buying program it had instituted to help jump-start the economy. This government “intrusion” is anathema to congressional Republicans. It well might be that the Fed has seen enough improvement in the economy — which includes significant strength in the private sector — that it no longer has to pump billions of dollars to keep the economic engines running.

The stock market gets jittery at that kind of news. Still, the market took off like a rocket today when the jobs figures came out. It helped yours truly’s retirement account immensely, for which I am grateful.

The president cannot get a break these days, what with the Affordable Care Act rollout being the disaster it has become. That problem appears fixed, too.

Remember when the economy was Issue No. 1 in the GOP’s plan to defeat President Obama’s attempt at re-election? It didn’t work. Voter returned him to office for another four years.

Today’s jobs report seems to suggest that’s why virtually no one is talking smack about the economy these days.

Jobs numbers ‘bad’? Not really

I was preparing myself this morning for a terrible jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

It didn’t arrive. What we got instead was a tally of 148,000 jobs created in September, with unemployment falling to 7.2 percent, the lowest it’s been since November 2008.


Are those figures great? No. Are they dismal? No.

I don’t quite know how to describe them. The political hounds on either side will spin it in their direction. Democrats will say the fight over whether to shut down the government hampered hiring. Republicans will say the shutdown didn’t have that much of an effect. Democrats will say 148,000 jobs added means more Americans are working than the previous month. Republicans will say the economy is still too sluggish to be described as being in “recovery” mode.

Hanging over all this is that 16-day shutdown, which delayed the release of the government figures. Maybe we need to wait for the October jobs report to determine what impact the shutdown had, if any.

I’m getting the sense that the mood in Washington is casting a pall over everything these days. Americans are angry at Congress and the White House. Although polling — the scientific kind, not those instant media polls that tell us nothing — tells us Republicans are taking the major body blows as a result of the shutdown and the debt ceiling “crisis.”

That’s the bad news. You want worse news?

The 2014 midterm elections are just around the corner. Get ready for even more politicization.