Economics 101: What has President Obama actually done for the unemployment rate?

Our annoying Kiwi commenter seems to think that the facts are on his side, and has cherry-picked some article by someone which states that there were good economic indicators which tell us that President Obama’s economic policies were absolutely great.

Well, let’s look at some real numbers. President Obama liked to claim that he created 4½ million jobs, which is pure bovine feces. He was claiming that the evil George Bush was responsible for all of the job losses, but that he gets credit for any job gains. As an academic exercise only, for this article I accept that point.

So, what actually happened? The highest official unemployment rate was 10.0%, in October of 2009.1 Since President Obama claims that he created all of these jobs, let’s look at that as the starting point. Between October of 2009 and October of 2012, 4,984,000 more people were employed. However, the work-eligible population grew by 7,433,000. It sure doesn’t seem like job growth kept up with population, does it?

There is a statistic called the participation rate, which is simply the percentage of the work-eligible population which is actually in the labor force, the labor force being defined as those who have jobs plus those who do not, but are actively seeking work; people without jobs who are not looking for work are not counted as part of the labor force. In October of 2009, when our official unemployment rate was 10.0%, 65.0% of the working-age population was considered to be in the labor force.

In October of 2012, in the last report issued before the election, the official unemployment rate had dropped to 7.9%. However, doing a little math tells us the truth: if potential workers under the Obama economy hadn’t been so discouraged as to not even look for work, if the participation rate had remained the same as in the end of the economy that President Obama wants to blame on his predecessor, the labor force would have been almost three million souls larger than the labor force reported in the October 2012 unemployment listing. What that means is that, in the part of the economy President Obama claims for his own, if as many people, percentagewise, had confidence enough to simply look for work, the unemployment rate would have stood not at 7.9% but 9.6%. The number of people officially unemployed would not have fallen by 3,163,000, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers would have you believe, but by a whopping 217,000.

These are the facts: job growth under President Barack Obama is no greater than population growth.

The ever-sycophantic Philadelphia Inquirer had the banner headline today, “Now, It’s Back to Work.” The trouble is, under even that part of the economy that President Obama claims as his own, there isn’t any going back to work for the unemployed; the number of people who are really out of work — as opposed to “officially” out of work — is virtually the same as it was from the point at which President Obama claims credit for jobs created. President Obama’s policies, despite the silly cherry-picking article that the Phoenician seems to think is “reality,” have not reduced unemployment to any significant extent; all that they have done is reduce the official unemployment numbers by discouraging people who should be working from actually looking for a job.

Of course, it no longer matters as far as the election is concerned; President Obama and the Democrats bamboozled enough people into voting for them that President Obama won the election. But it looks like the economy will have to heal itself, because President Obama and his minions certainly have no clue as to how to help. They’ve tried, and failed, and added a trillion dollars to the national debt unnecessarily in their attempt.

That last is the worst part. If they had done nothing at all, and let the economy recover on its own, it is unlikely we’d be any worse off. Now, we have an additional trillion dollars we have to pay back, money which will have to be taken out of our future production, and spent not to keep our economy growing, but get shipped to China. The efforts of the President and his team of economists to stimulate our economy in 2009 will have the actual effect of slowing down our economy in the out years.


  1. All employment statistics taken from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1, Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age, with all numbers except population seasonally adjusted; BLS does not seasonally adjust population. The user must input the search parameters he wishes to use. Numbers in the fourth data column are calculation functions performed by a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, assuming that the participation rate had remained constant.


  1. Well, let’s look at some real numbers.

    Better still, why don’t we graph them instead of cherry-picking three points and lying to ourselves and others?

    And here’s that graph.

    Now, if you want to talk about a declining labour force participation rate, you’re going to have to deal with a rather embarrassing fact – it’s been declining since 2000. Just like it was rising since the mid-1960s (which is when women started entering the workforce).

    According to your “logic”, there was massively higher unemployment then, since the participation rate was under 60%.

    As economists know, the unemployment rate and the labour force participation rate are two different things. The latter, for example, is affected by people seeking further employment or retiring early.

    You, Dana, carefully picked out three numbers about the first in order to ignore the actual data (which shows up on a graph), and then you switched to talking about the second to obscure this. Which is why you’re considered a weasel.

    But you don’t know the difference between the trade deficit and the government deficit, and you thought Romney would get at least 300 votes. Basically, you don’t know sh!t, and your opinion isn’t worth listening to.

    You can’t face reality.

  2. Oh, and lastly, Dana , you seem to have ignored the international comparisons showing what happened to the economies applying the European-style austerity you advocate in comparison to Obama’s US.

    Once again, you simply can’t deal with the facts.

  3. I recall reading, in the many threads over at Editor’s old site, that the Phoenician wished the worst for the US. Thus, his attempts at justifying our current president’s policies/actions are just a clandestine attempt to make us feel good about what he truly desires (and we’ll get).

  4. People are immigrating to the Republic of Texas from the United States at a current rate of 1,000 people per day. And I expect that rate of immigration to this bastion of freedom to only increase after these elections and proposition votes. California has signed its death certificate with the people stupidly voting for a sales tax increase, an income tax increase, a corporate tax increase. I have documented on multiple occasions the years-long history of businesses and people fleeing the failed Socialist haven of Kalifornia. Kaliponey-ya has just driven a dagger into the heart of prosperity, all in an effort to give even more of the economy’s life blood to the government leeches. (What’s Kalifornia’s version of an ObamaPhone? Is it the Moonbeam 1000?)

    Anyway, I previously wrote about Kalifornicateya’s Lunatic Left Lieutenent Governor visiting the Republic of Texas to find out how Texas is getting all of Kalifornikateya’s businesses to move to Texas. He went from a “I hate all businesses” state to a “Welcome, businesses!!! Enjoy the fruits of your own labor!!!” state to find out why businesses were leaving a state that hated them and going to a state that loved them. And he came back with the idea to tax them more? That’s what he thought would stave off the business flight? That’s what Kalifornians thought would stave off the flight of businesses — and with them, jobs — from California to “anywhere else”?

    California’s tax increases are guaranteed to mean less tax revenue than prior to the tax increases. And it’s going to mean Utahns, South Carolinians, Georgians, Texans can all thank the failed state of California for all the new businesses employing all the newly arriving immigrants from the Soviet Socialist Republic of Kalifornia.

    (A 1,000 person per day immigration rate means in 10 years, 3,653,000 immigrants, plus population growth via biology. Think about what that will do to the 2020 Census and the House of Representatives/Electoral Vote distribution. (The US has roughly 330 million people and 425 members of the US House.))

  5. Yorkshire, the Dow Jones was ramping up in the days preceding the election, in the expectation that the business destroying Socialist would be ousted and a wishy-washy Big Government Republican would replace him. November 7 and 8 saw the Dow Jones give up about 500 points, or 3 percent, of its value immediately following the anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semite, corrupt, anti-Constitutional, Law-breaking, radical Socialist’s re-election.

  6. York, don’t let the poison dwarf influence your opinion of an entire nation. You know that, of course, and I do understand how contact with toxic pollution can trigger general revulsion, but New Zealand is a wonderful county, inhabited by a polite intelligent, healthy, brave, and industrious people admirable in so many ways, but like America or Argentina or Korea infected here and there with misfits, defectives, and malcontents.

    Not to dwell on the point, but we don’t allow the shameful examples of Jeffrey Dahmer or Jared Loughner to represent the US. Nor does the odious Whistler exemplify Iowa, although when it comes to the Reverend Wright, events have shown the animated harlequin was a reliable harbinger of the serpent occupying the White House.

  7. John,

    As comitragic as the results might be it will also be highly interesting to watch if California does enter into the throes of a failed state.

    Now of course, with it’s war on Federalism and any barrier to centralized redistribution of life energies at bureaucratic whim, the left will do everything it possibly can to preempt the possibility that California will have to sleep in a bed it has made.

    But the problems do seem pretty plain.

    For example The Center for Immigration Studies, which bills itself as being pro immigration, but for low immigration, (dubious or not) has had one of its recent studies covered thus:

    According to a new study, American immigrants still lag far behind natives, with 43 percent finding themselves dependent on public assistance even 20 years or more after their immigration. The center for Immigration Studies released these findings this week suggesting that immigrating to the US may not be the economic opportunity many immigrants feel it is. “

    This from a Catholic site, also found on the Wash Times and numerous other sites as well.

    Now, this assertion is in itself so shocking that it beggars belief. Yet if it is even nearly accurate, it would tend to throw some light on California’s troubles.

    Meg Whitman candidate for Governor, in a similarly stupefying claim had written in an Orange County Register piece that

    ” 32 percent of all welfare cases in the United States are in California …”

    [with 12% of the US population]

    Although this may seem an outlandish claim as well, it appears to be accepted by the media there generally, its attribution apparently being traced back to the Governor Jerry Brown.

    The UT San Diego News carries these quotes:

    By Michael Gardner

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

    SACRAMENTO — When Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature overhauled the state’s welfare program last month, some people learned a jarring fact for the first time: California has one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients.

    That California has a lot of people on welfare was not a secret. In addition to its size, the state has a long history of heavy focus on social services, in part because of years of Democratic dominance in Sacramento.

    But the size of California’s welfare rolls is disproportionate when you consider the state has only 12 percent of the nation’s population. Some of it has to do with the benefits being more generous than in many other states, but experts also point to various economic and social factors.

    That overall figure amounts to $179 annually for every man, woman and child in California. That trails New York ($256) and Hawaii ($233). Two large states among the lowest in per capita spending are Texas ($32) and Florida ($44). The national average is $99.

    The figures for the states do not include other support, such as food stamps, known as CalFresh in California, or Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in California.

    The amount California spends and the level of its benefits have been central to the long-running debate over why so many people here are on welfare.


    Liz Schott, a senior fellow for the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that focuses on issues affecting low- and moderate-income families, said California’s perceived generosity is overblown, particularly given the cuts of the past few years. …

    Schott argues California’s larger benefits cannot be directly compared to many other states that stop providing aid more quickly even though the recipients remain poor and unemployed

    Take Texas for example. For every 100 families below the poverty line there, only six receive assistance, she said. In California, 66 of those below the poverty line are helped.

    “I don’t call that ‘Texas doing better than California.’ In Texas there are still 94 poor families who need assistance,” Schott said.

    Overall, when state and federal commitments are combined, California’s $6.67 billion is far and away the most spent by any state. New York is a distant second at $4.95 billion. No other state breaks the $2 billion mark and only six others top $1 billion. “

    The problem Texas will have (or any other social “Texas”) is how to keep the leftists from chasing after them.

  8. Well, it’s of no use responding to uncivilized people. It just might induce finger joint arthritis. That said, the resident that renewed the lease at 1600 PA Ave., NW, Washington, Disease 20001 has made shit bed for himself. I think the real vote is taking place now when the 50 or so large employers are laying off about 10 to 15% of their workforce to pay for the new regulations and taxes imposed by the poser at the above address.

    We’re watching NYC disintegrate into total chaos over the recent storms. What will happen when the tsunami of layoffs hit. That resident may be rejoicing today, but the poisoned fruits of his labor will be devastaing.

  9. Well, the good news, to the extent there’s any good news, is Obama won with a much smaller margin than before. Hope and change are gone. Obama implicitly admitted as much in his campaign, which was almost entirely negative. His motto: If you have nothing positive to offer, then attack the other guy.

    I’ve istened to all the pundits and the “Experts”. They all have their theories and excuses. But they were right about one thing a long time ago. Negative ads work. They worked for Romney against Gingrich and Santorum, and they worked for Obama against Romney. Why did Romney not learn from his own experience? He who defines the other guy first, wins. Obama had no record to run on. The economy was lousy, unemployment high, deficits and the debt exploding. He had four years to fix these things, and he failed. Nor did he offer any plans to fix any of them in the future. So his onlychoice was to attack Romney. Paint him as the rich guy who only went into business to lay people off and make a profit doing so. And Romney never adequately responded. The obvious responses were two-fold. One, go positive. Tout his success in creating jobs and building good companies. Romney is the classic all-American success story, and it should have been celebrated. But he did not do so, at least not in the swing states where all the negative ads were running. As Dick Morris once said about his running of the Clinton campaign: Never let the sun set on a negative attack against your guy. Always respond! Romney’s other failure was to not attack himself. Like I said, it worked for him in the primaries. I knew he was in trouble last spring when he told one of his Super PAC’s to not go after Jeremiah Wright. His obvious response should have been “If they’re going to lie about my past, then I’ll tell the truth about his!”.

    I did not support Romney in the beginning. I thought Newt had better ideas and Romney’s record was of a RINO. He had RomneyCare to defend, and too many flip-flops on issues like abortion. But he proved that if you carpet bomb your opponents with negative ads, you can win. So I figured he would do the same to Obama. Attack his failed ideology, his radical past and influences, his failed record, and his lousy economy. Put Obama on defense and make him defend himself. Do what Reagan did to Carter, Bush Sr. to Dukakis, Bush Jr. to Kerry. Going negative might not be pretty, but it works. Their side played hardball, we played wiffleball.

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