Remember the Jobs Council that Barack Obama created two years ago? Stung by the loss of the House in the midterms, Obama attempted to show that he wanted input from the private sector about how to grow the economy. Two years later, after having won re-election, he no longer needs the political cover:
President Barack Obama will let his jobs council expire this week without renewing its charter, winding down one source of input from the business community even as unemployment remains stubbornly high.
When Obama in January 2011 formed his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, unemployment was hovering above 9 percent. Two years [as] president later, more than 12 million people in the U.S. are out of work. The unemployment rate has improved to 7.8 percent, but both parties agree that’s still too high.
A provision in Obama’s executive order establishing the council says it sunsets on Thursday. A White House official said the president does not plan to extend it.
Officials said the president always intended for the council to fulfill its mission and then wind down, and said that Obama would continue to actively engage and seek input from business leaders about ways to accelerate job-creation and economic growth. Among the steps Obama plans to pursue are expedited permits for infrastructure projects, the White House said.
It’s not as if Obama gave it much time anyway. As Erika and Mother Jones pointed out yesterday, the panel hadn’t met in months, and had only met four times in total. That hardly represents a laser focus on the economy, as I mentioned in my last post.
So, how did Obama and his Jobs Council do in putting people back to work? Let’s take a look at BLS data to see. First, here’s the number of employed in the two years of the Jobs Council’s existence:
This looks pretty good, and we can expect the White House to use this data in self-congratulation. However, it doesn’t take population growth into context. We’ve added 4 million jobs in two years, but that averages only to 169,000 per month — barely enough to cover additional workers coming into the system.
This is the true state of the work force:
We are barely above a 31-year low in the civilian population participation rate in the workforce, at 63.6%. When Obama took office, it was 65.7%, and it was 65.7% in June 2009 when the Great Recession officially ended. In January 2011, when Obama first created this Jobs Council, it was 64.2%. Instead of making any improvements, Obama ignored his Jobs Council, and the workforce continued its term-long decline under Obama.
Dismissing his Jobs Council only makes official what had been unofficial neglect of the economy and workforce. At least that has become more transparent today.