When an administration sends a Cabinet member out to warn people that the unemployment rate will rise a few days before the monthly numbers get released, it usually means bad news. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner went on Good Morning America in an interview already noted by King Banaian for its mendacity on the recovery, and sent up a red flag about unemployment rates. In fact, it’s the first thing Geithner has to say in the clip below:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledged that it is still a “tough economy” for most Americans, and warned it’s possible the unemployment rate will go up for a couple of months before it comes down as more people enter the labor force.
“When they see a little hope that there may be jobs out there, they start to come back in again. And that can cause the measured unemployment rate to go up — temporarily,” Geithner told “Good Morning America’s” George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview. “But what we expect to see, and I think most forecasters expect this…is an economy that’s gradually healing, gradually strengthening, businesses starting to add people back.”
In fact, the Obama administration has gotten a break on the unemployment rate over the past year because of the flight of people from the workforce. A couple of weeks ago, I charted some of the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to show the actual destruction of jobs and employment since the passage of the stimulus package. First, let’s look at the percentage of the civilian population participating in the workforce, which hit a generational low almost a year after the passage of Porkulus, noted by the red star:
And next, here is the total level of employment in a longer period (from January 2007 to June 2010):
The unemployment rate will rise as people return to the workforce, but it won’t be masking really great news. It will just make the current situation more clear than the 9.5% rate that masks the exodus of millions of workers from consideration in that calculation. The real news is told by these charts, especially the second, which is that the stimulus package didn’t result in saving jobs at all. The destruction of employment continued unabated until it hit a floor — and at least at the moment, gave a dead-cat bounce when it hit.
If Geithner’s going on the media tour to argue that a rise in the rate means good news for America, something tells me that the White House expects the overall number to be pretty bad on Friday — and that the numbers shown above won’t exactly be skyrocketing upward either.
Update: Originally, I wrote that the two charts showed the same period. That’s incorrect. The first chart starts in December 2007, and the second chart starts in January 2007. I’ve fixed the text above.