February 8, 2010
[efoods]White House apologists were quick to point to the unemployment rate decline from 10 percent to 9.7 percent as evidence that the recovery is gathering momentum and that President Obama’s policies — especially his $787 billion economic stimulus bill Congress approved last February — are “working.” But the back story behind the figures provides cold comfort.
First, the drop to 9.7 percent unemployment does not reflect the creation of new jobs that normally accompanies an economic recovery. The number of new jobs is actually declining. Total nonfarm payroll employment, for example, dipped by an additional 20,000 positions after a December decline of 150,000 positions. The unemployment rate the day Obama took office last year stood at 7.6 percent and 134.6 million people had jobs. When he signed the economic stimulus, Obama promised the bill would bolster the economy sufficiently to keep unemployment below 8.0 percent. But the unemployment rate has exceeded 8.0 percent since last fall, and total employment stands at only 129.5 million. The stimulus has been a bust.