Earlier this week, the unemployment numbers were released.
From the Associated Press:
Just 148,000 jobs were added last month, a steep drop from August's gain, though they were enough to lower unemployment to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent in August. The report bolsters expectations that the Federal Reserve will maintain its pace of bond purchases for the rest of 2013 to try to keep long-term loan rates low.
The story went on to explain that the release of the report was delayed a couple of weeks because of the government shutdown.
Average U.S. job growth has fallen sharply in the past three months after a promising start this year. The economy added an average of 143,000 jobs a month from July through September. That was down from the 182,000 average gain during from April through June and well below the 207,000-a-month pace from January through March.
The AP also noted that since the government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they are actively looking for work, most of the drop in the unemployment rate this year comes from people giving up looking for work.
Of course, if you’re the White House, your top economic adviser says September is a sign of “solid growth.” In addition, you say that things are now going to get worse because of the government shutdown, orchestrated by Republicans.
The stagnant economy, you see, has absolutely nothing to do with President Obama’s economic policies. It’s all on the Republicans. And, by the way, the administration is now going to focus like a laser on job creation.
Fair enough.
But there was another report out this week.
This report didn’t get quite the press coverage of the unemployment report. And the White House didn’t trot out it’s top economic adviser to talk about it.
This report was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and, frankly, it was startling.
This report showed the labor force participation rate – the percentage of the non-institutionalized population 16 years or older who either have a job or actively sought one in the last four weeks – was 63.2 percent in September.
When President Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent. The new data shows a decrease of 2.5 percent.I
Those 16 years old or older who have decided not to participate in the nation’s labor force climbed to a record 90,609,000 in September.
In January 2009, there were 80,507,000 Americans not in the labor force. That means the number of Americans not in the labor force has increased by 10,102,000 during Obama's presidency.
From July to August, the  BLS says, Americans not participating in the labor force climbed from 89,957,000 to 90,473,000.
It was the first time since record keeping began that the number pushed past 90 million. That was a one-month increase of 516,000.
(In the second quarter – April, May and June – average job growth was 184,000 per month.)
In September, another 136,000 people joined the ranks of those not participating in the labor force, so the number now stands at another record 90,609,000.
So at the same time “solid growth” was creating 148,000 jobs, 136,000 people ditched the labor force.
The number of people actually employed increased by 133,000 last month, climbing from 144,170,000 in August to 144,303,000 in September. When Obama took office in January 2009, there were 142,153,000 Americans employed – meaning the number has increased by 2,150,000 over the past 57 months.
Part of all this can be attributed to the fact that female participation in the labor force is on the decline. In January 2009, the female labor force participation rate was 59.4 percent. By September of this year, it had declined to 57.1 percent.
The BLS also notes that Baby Boomers who are retiring are not being replaced by young people entering the labor force.
Another gem out this week came from the Census Bureau.
It reported that Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers – a rather dubious first.
There were 108,592,000 people in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2011 getting benefits. There were 101,716,000 people who worked full-time year round in 2011, including both private-sector and government workers. That’s 1.07 people getting benefits for every one full-time worker.
It doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out this is unsustainable.
And, of course, we will continue to be told that none of this has anything to do with the Obama adminstration’s policies.