It has been three years since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed. Feel stimulated yet?
Three years later, the net change in jobs (since March 2009, through January 2012) is -428,000.
Last year, months after the recovery was to have taken hold, the economy created 1.8 million jobs. That might sound impressive if you don’t follow the labor market closely, but at that rate — monthly job creation of 152,000 — we won’t return to the previous employment peak of 146.6 million jobs until October 2014. That would be almost halfway through a second Obama term, and almost exactly seven years since that peak.
The unemployment rate, still well above the levels the Obama administration predicted when the stimulus was passed, has fallen in recent months in large part because between
3 million and 5 million Americans have grown discouraged and stopped looking for work. (The range owes to how retiring baby boomers are accounted for.) After rising for nearly six decades, the labor force participation rate in January was at a level not seen in that month since 1982. It has fallen 2 percentage points in Barack Obama’s first three years in office, the largest such drop of any president since the federal government began keeping the statistic in 1948.
If the participation rate had only held steady, the unemployment rate would be about 11 percent, not the official rate of 8.3.
My guess is that the millions of Americans counted in the unemployment numbers, along with the millions who aren’t, don’t buy the “saved” part of the “saved or created” artifice. They’re not fooled into thinking things are better than their circumstances demonstrate they are.
We’ve spent a lot of time in recent months talking about the flaws of the Republican candidates, and rightly so. But whenever that race wraps up, we’ll hear plenty about the shortcomings of the Obama presidency. And the lackluster results of the stimulus will be one tough albatross for him to shed.
(Note: Poll Position will be posted later today.)
– By Kyle Wingfield