Economics, Pethokoukis, U.S. Economy

Weak January jobs report shows why Obama doesn’t want to talk about jobs anymore


President Obama mentioned “jobs” only three times in his recent inaugural address, “workers” one time, and “unemployment” zippo. The January jobs report provides a sober reminder that the US labor market, while recovering, remains extraordinarily weak. The official unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% as 157,000 net new jobs were created, according to the Labor Department.

To provide some context, recall that back in January 2009 Team Obama economists Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer predicted the unemployment rate by 2013 would be closing in on 5%. (Of course, Obama’s economists also thought we’d be in a mini-boom of 4%-plus economic growth. That hasn’t happened either.) Oh, and at the January pace of job creation, we won’t return to pre-Great Recession employment levels until after 2025, according to the Hamilton Project’s Jobs Gap calculator.

Image Credit: Hamilton Project

Image Credit: Hamilton Project

Now, there were some nice upward revisions to 2012 job growth. Instead of an average of 153,000 net new jobs a month last year, the US economy generated more like 181,000 jobs. And strong upward revisions to the November and December numbers suggest economic growth may not be as weak as the fourth-quarter GDP report suggests.

But two broader measure of labor market health — the employment-population ratio and the labor force participation rate — remain stuck at anemic levels. Indeed, if labor force participation were the same as when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.8%. As it is, the U-6 unemployment rate — which includes a) part-timers who want full-time work and b) the discouraged who want a job but haven’t searched for work in the prior month because they believe no jobs are available — remained at 14.4% for the third straight month.

When might the economy return to the sort of unemployment rate we saw before the Great Recession, say, 4.5% or so? Let’s assume a) labor force participation regains half the ground it’s lost over the past four years, and b) job growth keeps turning in 2012-like performances. According to the Atlanta Fed’s jobs calculator, it would take another eight years to get back to the unemployment nadir of the George W. Bush administration. And that’s assuming, we don’t suffer another recession between now and then.

No wonder the president doesn’t want to talk about jobs.

50 thoughts on “Weak January jobs report shows why Obama doesn’t want to talk about jobs anymore

    • N. Waff,

      The unemployment rate exceeded 10 percent for 10 consecutive months during Ronald Reagan’s presidency from September 1982 to June 1983 — peaking at 10.8 percent in November and December of 1982.

      In his first 45 months in office, President Obama created 750,000 private sector jobs, while under the same time frame, Bush lost more than one million jobs.

      • So after FIVE years you still don’t get it? Let’s do the math…going back to the 4th grade now…..FIVE years times Twelve months is sixty, that is 60 if you can read really well. Bush was blamed by Obama for the fiscal problems so after 5 years it is still Bushes’ fault?

        There are 8.5 Million less jobs in America since Obama has been president. The total unemployed in this country of 300 million is over 28 Million people. One in five is unemployed and growing. 175,000 people, just last month, are “erased” by the government employment stats. These are real people that the government has just thrown away like so much garbage.

        The regulations, taxes, overspending are killing us. Wait till your $20K medical bill hits for Obama care alone.

        You Progressives really don’t care about anybody but yourselves and it shows every time you open your mouths.

      • Not sure what you are smoking but Obama didn’t create any private sector jobs, business did. The same with Bush, Clinton and the rest of the presidents. Secondly, the job loss during that time was incredibly high so how about a net job change? I guess that would make your statistics look bad huh?

      • Well, if RR would have spend $1.3T/yr and plunged our country into debt we will probably never recover from, I am sure he could have bought as many jobs as Obama.

        Instead, he implemented strong policy that led to the greatest expansion of our economy ever….again, without suffocating the country in debt.

        Obama has spent trillions upon trillions trying to buy jobs and votes…it will sink this country.

      • Obama “created” 750,000 jobs. Fantastic. Why didn’t he “create” another 10 million? He did it before, he can do it again. Right?

      • Nice research you did for your response. You just missed one tiny fact; the government does not “create” any private sector jobs. Obama created 750000 more dependants that you and I will have to pay for forever.
        “the only thing that lasts forever is a government program”

  1. “…it would take another eight years to get back to the unemployment nadir of the George W. Bush administration”. That’s always assuming that Obama will not make matters worse; which is likely an unrealistic assumption.

      • Blaming Bush only works if you haven’t actually taken the time to study the causes of the housing crisis. It wasn’t anything that Bush did. He actually tried to rein in Fannie Mae. Maybe he didn’t do enough but never the less, the roots of the housing crisis goes back to liberal policies. See Peter Wallison’s “Dissent from the Majority Report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission” for a detailed discussion.

      • Doubtful anyone should trust anyone who doesn’t have the ability to make proper use of the word ‘lose’ vs ‘loose.’

        And, like an obedient serf for the regime, you always conveniently ignore the stat that should be focused on: The labor participation rate, which continues to erode and languish under your Dear Reader.

      • You mean after Pelosi took power and tanked the economy, or you mean after CRA pushed banks to make a zillion bad loans that – SURPRISE! – could not be repaid, tanking the global economy and burning trillions of dolalrs?

      • How did Bush “lose” jobs? Under the bed? Left them in the car? There was a banking panic caused by the bursting of the subprime housing bubble. The panic led to a v collapse. 8 months of increased job losses followed almost
        as fast by 8 months of decreased job losses. By golly, the recession Obama inherited ended in June 2009. The blame for the recession won’t end until Obama retires.

  2. Gee whiz…I am getting tired of criticizing Mr. Obama for poor job performance and realize that any improvement in an economic sector most likely occurred despite Obama’s bumbling.

  3. In California you are wasting your time looking for a job if you don’t speaki Spanish. American businesses in this state killed the economic engine that built the state in the first place. Not along ago, newspapers ran ads such as Rohr Aircraftd running ads looking for 3,000 engineers on a single weekend. Now the Lockheeds packed up and left and in their place the aircraft capital of the world has become the taco capital of the world.

    • Your basic premise is that the upward trend in taxes in CA had nothing to do with Lockheed leaving CA. It has been my impression that New York and California believe they are the be all to be all. Interesting there are not 3,000 engineers in one of the be all to be all states!

    • Get this useless piece of crap president and all of the rest of our useless democratic and republican congress out of our office. We are getting screwed while these bozo’s are collecting a big fat paycheck funded by us, the American taxpayers . They could not care less about us. They are all playing a game of politics to look important and necessary. If they don’t care about this country then throw them all out. We need leaders! Men and woman who will care more about this country than making money and power. Leaders who have the balls to call simple right from wrong and can add and subtract. These so called leaders we have right now are too afraid to stand up and call a spade a spade and do something about it . Where is our George Washington?

  4. I think the Jobs Council actually did their job. It’s that this administration did not like the answers. Kicking Lisa Jackson, Steven Chu, Bernanke, Geithner, all the other nameless economic advisors that quit, Hillary Clinton (Keystone XL), to the curb is a start. However, it would also mean that the PPACA has to be dismantled too. No. The Jobs Council did their jobs. It’s that Obama was/is AN ARROGANT FOOL who hurts the average American worker. He thinks he’s actually affecting executive compensation when all he is doing is killing the mom & pops. Social Darwinism happens NO MATTER WHAT. Kind of like actual Darwinism. All he has done is moved it from one sector to the other. He cannot prevent it. Evolution (the economic kind) isn’t for the weak-minded bleeding heart liberal. THAT is why our jobs are in China. Obama’s regulation and taxation pushed them out of the US. Poverty vs. Clean Air. You pick, America.

  5. I believe that Obama is happy with the jobs report – wants it even lower – because his entire objective is to transfer private sector money to the government, making the job market bleak and growing government so that the high jobless rate becomes the “new norm.” Obama has done everything he can to kill capitalism and our free markets and our prosperity with the help of John Benedict Arnold Roberts (Obamacare must eventually be repealed) and Ben Bernacke. Obama wants to create a two-tier social system in which the Elites rule and We, The People peons slave for him. Americans better wake up or our Constitutional Republic and freedom will be gone. What a mess voters and Obama/Democrats/RINOS have made.

  6. I seem to remember that Reagan had a Congress controlled by the Democrats. When he wanted to put through his tax cuts to stimulate the economy he wanted to make them retroactive to the beginning of the current year. The Democrats insisted on phasing them in beginning with the beginning of the next year. He, of course, had to compromise – but blaming him for the length of time it took for the recovery to begin is incorrect.

  7. I keep reading these pundits wondering and commenting on jobs under Obama and I wonder why they just refuse to understand. Obama wrote in his book that working in the private sector was “behind enemy lines.” He stated on the campaing trail in 2008 in an interview, and in a debate in 2008 that he wanted to raise tax rates for the purpose of “fairness” (ie redistribution) – NOT to raise federal revenues. His policies have avoided growth whenever and wherever possible. Obama HATES capitalism. ANY growth policy will PROVE that capitalism WORKS. Obama CANNOT allow that; it clashes at a foundational level with his ideology – with WHO HE IS. He will NEVER allow a growth-based recovery on his watch BECAUSE it will PROVE HIS IDEOLOGY WRONG. But people keep writing and speaking as though Obama just needs to understand his policies aren’t working and change to capiltalist policies that WILL work. NEVER HAPPEN. Accept it. Deal with it. Understand it. He HATES capitalism. He DEMANDS to centralize government. THIS IS WHO HE IS. And insofar as his policies “not working”? Wrong. THEY ARE WORKING FOR HIM.

  8. Wow. Jimmy “What Recession?” Pethokoukis finally cares about job creation when a Democrat is in the White House.
    Go Figure.

  9. The funniest thing are all the financial articles about how contracting GDP and increasing unemployment naturally make the market rally. It won’t be long before the Fed is the only real purchaser and every stock sale will print money.

  10. Bush net gain 1.1 mil. And then this non recovery is the slowest historically…past like Reagan 4 to 8% quarters. He inherited recession and cont to make it worse!

  11. It seems it is a small step from denying the fundamentals of debt and economic servitude to denying the fundamentals of mathematics. Years from now, historians will marvel at how a people which so recently had rescued a world from slavery so easily allowed themselves to be trapped by the promise of easy living.

  12. Well, Mitt Romney’s plan didn’t convince enough enough people, apparently, and he said “jobs” every other word.

    The recession and resulting jobs crisis is global, people. There are too many people chasing too few jobs. In the USA we are comparatively better off than most other countries, although a few are faring better, those particular ones have some inherent advantages (oil resources and lower population).

    Neither Bush nor Obama caused the problems that plague the world right now.

  13. It’s funny hearing all these liberals try to spin these dismal numbers year after year. Wake up and come back to reality please look at California and look at Europe. These policies have never and will never work…

  14. HOPE & CHANGE..yes, we can!!!WE CAN’T WAIT…pass this bill forward I’M EVOLVING…I NEED MORE YEARS TO FINISH WHAT I STATRED… I WON! EQUALS TO VACATIONS AND GOLFING!!!!!!!AND the government want to raise their pay,too!!! we get more taxes. we should be happy,right? well should we.. right.

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