Jobs Report – Blame Where Blame is Due [OPINION]
The August data was released last week and the private sector rang up growth of 176,000 jobs. That number reflects roughly 165,000 service sector jobs and 11,000 in goods production. The number of consecutive months of private sector growth has now reached 42.
If you heard a lower number on the news, what you heard was overall job growth. When you take into account what is happening in the public sector, the amount of jobs created in August drops to 169,000.
This has been typical of the recovery; every month more private sector job growth tempered by losses in government jobs.
You would think that this would make Republicans happy. The “no matter how big the government actually is, it is automatically too big” crowd is getting their way.
If the only job that matters is a private sector job, then intellectually honest right-wingers ought to be singing Obama’s praises, or at least crediting the do-nothing Republican House for obstructing their way into a winning economy.
You won’t hear that though, because despite getting Republicans exactly what they want, this isn’t an economy for which anyone would earn points. This is the kind of economy from which politicians up for reelection want to distance themselves.
Growth numbers from June and July were revised down a bit. The unemployment rate is down to 7.3% which is the lowest it has been since 2008, but still stubbornly high.
Worse, the decline is mostly attributable to people giving up on their job searches and leaving the workforce. The number of jobs added in August is just barely enough to keep pace with the demographic momentum of immigrants and people entering their working years.
If we didn’t have the utter devastation of the worst days of the Great Recession in our rear view mirror, we would look at our current predicament as a pretty serious malaise in need of an economic stimulus bill. Fat chance of that coming to pass now, though.
Democrats and the Obama administration do deserve some of the blame here. Way back in the early days of 2009 they pushed for a stimulus package of less than a trillion dollars when many sensible economists were pointing to a gap of more than double that number which would need to be filled.
Obama’s economic team was either way too optimistic, or worse, political considerations trumped mathematics and an insufficient size stimulus was sought in order to avoid the stigma of a trillion plus dollar price tag.
Mind you, both houses of Congress were in Democratic hands at the time. They feared being labeled big spenders and ultimately losing the majority.
That happened in the House anyway, and they didn’t even get the benefit of passing a stimulus bill up to the job of repairing the economy.
Instead, the already insufficient stimulus proposal was negotiated down and half its value turned into tax cuts, which have much less recession busting effect than infrastructure improvements do, in order to scrape past a promised Republican filibuster in the Senate.
Democrats were either poor estimators, or pathetic negotiators, unable to play hardball, and more concerned with protecting their own seats then with fixing the real problem. That is where their part in this debacle ends though.
The lion’s share of the blame needs to go to Congressional Republicans. They fought to weaken an already insufficient stimulus proposal.
Since they took control of the House, they have blocked any and all attempts to do anything to finish the work of repairing the economy. Outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a Bush appointee, has been the only Republican to actually put the health of his country’s economy before political considerations; of course his is not an elected office.
Which brings us back to the loss of public sector jobs; a growing population requires increases in government services at the federal, state, and local levels.
It is pretty simple really; more people means more teachers, firefighters, police officers, and yes even bureaucrats are needed in order to just maintain the same level of services to citizens.
Not only are we not keeping pace with the demands of a growing population, but owing to Republican tactics like the Sequester, with every cut we are lessening the level of services provided. This is happening not because we are out of money as a nation, but because Republicans refuse to ask those who can afford to pay more to actually do so.
The Republican motivation here is purely political. They failed to deny Obama his reelection, but they can’t allow the economy to be fixed under a Democratic President’s watch because they see that as a one-way ticket to Hillary Clinton.
Republicans are gambling that the electorate is too apathetic and/or stupid to realize that our economic situation is the product of inadequate stimulus, budget cuts, and prioritizing the private sector over the public; otherwise known as conservative fiscal policy.
The 2014 election will demonstrate if Republicans are correct in their assessment of the voting public. I hope they are wrong, but I fear that they might not be.
If Republicans hold the House or retake the Senate, the real blame needs to go to the voters.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.