Say, just how “fine” is the private sector doing, anyway?

posted at 12:41 pm on June 8, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Erika already noted the reassurance from President Obama on the state of the private sector, which he thinks is “doing fine”:

Well, just how “fine” has the private sector done?  Let’s take a look at the record, and compare it to Obama’s words.  First, the private sector during his term of office has created a net 55,000 jobs since Obama took office. The BLS data from the CES survey from 2009-12 produces this chart:

Note the curve in the graph.  Obama signed the stimulus bill in February 2009, which was supposed to halt job erosion.  The private sector lost jobs for the next twelve months in a row, only flipping to the positive in March 2010.   A better starting position would be the point of recovery, which came four months after the stimulus bill got signed, in June 2009.  Even if one goes from the start of the recovery, though, that only comes to 3.107 million jobs in the private sector, not 4.3 million.

In order to get to 4.3 million, Obama has to ignore his first full year in office.  Only by comparing May 2012 to February 2010 do we get to 4.267 million private-sector jobs being created.  However, that’s not a net gain, certainly not counting from the launch of the $800 billion jobs stimulus plan, nor from the recovery.

Even if we assign the entirety of the recession to George Bush, as Obama argues, job growth in the private sector in this recovery amounts to only 86,300 jobs per month — not even enough to keep up with population growth, which requires roughly 125,000-150,000  new jobs per month to just tread water.  Obama’s spurious claim of 4.267 million jobs in 27 months as being net for his economic policies still amounts to just 158,000 per month, barely the status quo in relation to population growth … at the bottom of the trough.

That’s not “fine” at all.  In fact, it’s pretty darned lousy, and the precipitous drop in civilian population participation rates make that clear.  Jim Pethokoukis reminds us what constitutes “fine”:

1. Private-sector jobs have increased by an average of just 105,000 over the past three months and by just 89,000 a month during the entire Obama Recovery.

In 1983 and 1984, during the supply-side Reagan Boom, private sector jobs increased by an average of 292,000 a month. Adjusted for population, that number is more like 375,000 private-sector jobs a month

2. If the labor force participation rate for May had just stayed where it was in April, the unemployment rate would have risen to 8.4%. As it is, the U.S. economy is suffering is longest sustained bout of 8% unemployment or higher since the Great Depression.

3. Private-sector GDP rose just 2.7% in the first quarter, after rising a measly 1.2% last year.

By contrast, private-sector GDP rose 3.8% in 1983 and 6.5% in 1984 during the supply-side Reagan Recovery.

Voters do not think the present stagnation, a thirty-year low in civilian participation rates, and staggering job creation is “fine,” no matter what Obama thinks.  The fact that Obama tells us that everything is “fine” shows his connection to the reality of middle America to be even more tenuous than the Anna Wintour video suggests.

Update: Jim Geraghty (and others on Twitter) are calling this Obama’s John McCain moment.  In case you’re wondering … that’s not a good thing.  In 2008, Obama attacked McCain for this statement:

The Obama campaign asked, “How can McCain fix our economy if he doesn’t know it’s broken?” That question sure sounds relevant to the president today.

Perhaps even more so.

Update II: It’s been a while since we’ve given out the Chip Diller Award:

Update III: Turns out that John Podhoretz was way ahead of me

Update IV: I changed “55,000” to “55,000 jobs” in the second paragraph, and added “in relation to population growth” in the fifth paragraph to clarify the meaning of “status quo.”

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