Sometimes, one marvels at the shamelessness of the spin and outright lies politicians tell to deflect criticism of their failed policies. In Harry Reid’s case, one has to marvel also at the unbridled cluelessness of attempting to use easily-checkable claims — such as the notion that the real problem in unemployment is a lack of government workers, which is all the fault of George W. Bush. No, really:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday indicated Congress needs to worry about government jobs more than private-sector jobs, and that this is why Senate Democrats are pushing a bill aimed at shoring up teachers and first-responders.
“It’s very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about,” Reid said on the Senate floor.
Reid was responding to recent comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who accused Democrats of purposefully pursuing higher taxes as part of the teacher/first-responder bill, S. 1723, so that Republicans would oppose it. McConnell said the bill was meant to fail in order to give Democrats an issue to run on in the 2012 election, but Reid said the Republicans are simply trying to defeat President Obama any way they can.
The Hill tries to give Reid a little cover on this point:
Private-sector jobs have increased over the last 19 months, while government jobs have lagged. They’ve also seen cuts in several states that are struggling to balanced their books.
Research must be a dying art these days in both Congress and newsrooms, but it’s not because the data is hard to find. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has literally decades of data on unemployment, and make it as easy to use as possible, short of providing a sherpa and a mule. In just a few minutes, I was able to produce three charts that utterly refute this argument.
First, let’s look at private-sector employment from the beginning of January 2006, roughly in the middle of the last recovery, through almost five years to September 2011:
Note that this does not account for population growth, but are just the raw job numbers from the private sector. We are still almost 4 million jobs below where we started in 2006 (113,247,000 to 109,349,000), and more than six million private-sector jobs below our January 2008 peak of 115,610,000. Since troughing out at our low point in February 2010 (106,772,000), we’ve averaged an addition of 135,632 private-sector jobs per month, enough to just barely keep ahead of population growth (usually figured at 100K-125K).
Now let’s look at government workers in the same period, at all levels of government:
In the past five years, this sector has seen a net gain of 568,000 jobs. It has dropped from a late-2008 peak of 21,521,000 jobs to 20,568,000 in September, but that’s less than a million jobs, as opposed to a drop of 6 million in the private sector from its peak in January 2008. Government employment actually rebounded last month by 282,000 jobs. That sector doesn’t appear to be the problem, nor the solution.
Finally, let’s look at a critical data set that comes directly into play when calculating the unemployment rate — civilian participation in the workforce:
We have hit generational lows for civilian participation in the workforce, and as the charts above show, that’s a direct result of losing private-sector jobs, not bureaucratic positions. This depicts a real crisis as millions of Americans get estranged from production and success.
Anyone with a functioning conscience would blush while claiming that private-sector job growth has been “just fine” while shilling for funding of bureaucrats. Maybe someone can review the tape to see if Reid had any color in his cheeks while shamelessly lying about the economy.