What’s a fiscally responsible political party to do? Last week half a dozen Senate Republicans gave Harry Reid the votes he needed to extend unemployment benefits, dumping the issue in the laps of the House GOP majority. We can only hope the results of last Monday’s Rasmussen polling indicate a large majority of voters understand the dismal employment situation better than some Senate Republicans understand Harry Reid.
One thing that’s understood by increasing numbers of voters is that the official unemployment rate is largely bunk, reflecting only those people who are actually looking for work and ignoring millions who have given up, demoralized by the sluggish Obama economy or grown comfortable with the Reid-Obama policy of paying them—evidently forever—to do nothing.
Thus the December unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent from seven, courtesy of a trifling 74,000 new jobs created while some 347,000 people quit the workforce entirely. By the perverse logic that drives these numbers, if everyone else would just join the 347,000 and quit their jobs or stop looking for one, unemployment could drop to zero.
More informative is the recent Gallup survey measuring the payroll-to-population rate and showing fewer than 43 percent of U.S. adults (not counting self-employed) working full-time for an employer last month. Gallup has been tracking those numbers since January 2010, when they were nearly the same as now.
Another measure, the employment rate including part-timers and self-employed, was 58.6 percent. Whether the New York Times meant its “new normal” headline to suggest this is acceptable can be debated.
What isn’t debatable is that employment has flat-lined since the beginning of the Obama “recovery” and the administration’s actions—as opposed to its rhetoric—betray no sign of discomfort.