President Obama's economy is failing again. Just as it did in 2010 and 2011, what was thought to be strong job growth in the winter has turned out to be nothing more than a figment of the Department of Labor's imagination come spring.
Earlier this month, the Labor Department did report that the nation's unemployment fell from 8.2 in March to 8.1 percent in April, and that the U.S. economy did add 115,000 jobs. But those new jobs were far outpaced by the 342,000 Americans who became so discouraged they stopped looking for work entirely. People who give up hope and quit seeking work are no longer counted as unemployed. If the U.S. work force were the same size today as it was when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be a full three points higher, at 11.1 percent.
But why has the work force been shrinking? The Washington Post mentions workers getting discouraged by the Obama economy, but then adds: "A number of economists are arguing that the recession is distracting people from the real story -- long-run demographic trends that have nothing to do with the current economy. Baby boomers are starting to retire en masse, which means that there are fewer eligible American workers."
But a quick look at the Labor Department data shows that this is not true at all. If baby boomer retirements were responsible for driving down the size of the work force, then work force participation rates among those 55 and up would be falling faster than (or at least as fast as) other age groups. In fact, work force participation among oldsters has risen -- from 40.1 percent when Obama was sworn in, to 40.3 percent today.
Every other age group's work force participation is falling. Among those aged 16 to 24, labor force participation has fallen from 57.4 percent when Obama was sworn in, to 54.4 percent today. There are 500,000 fewer 18-19 year-olds working or looking for work today than there were three years ago, despite population growth. Young people just can't find work in the Obama economy.
Obama's policies are killing the job market for young people in two ways. First, by pursuing endless extend-and-pretend mortgage bailout programs, Obama has prolonged the housing crisis and prevented a rebound in housing prices. This is also why labor force participation has gone up for those over 55 -- many of them can't retire since their homes and retirement investments have lost so much value.
Second, Obama has made it more expensive to hire young people. Young job seekers rarely demanded health insurance in the past, but Obamacare will soon force all employers to provide health insurance to employees -- and not just insurance, but robust, expensive policies that even cover such things as birth control -- whether they want it or not. Employers are calculating that, beginning soon, they will have to add costly insurance payments on top of whatever wages they pay new employees, so they are becoming pickier about who they hire. A young person with no employment history simply isn't worth the risk.
And yes, Obamacare forces parents' policies to cover adult "children," but it not those who can get insurance through their jobs. For employers, all that provision does is drive up rates and discourage new hires.
If young people can't get that first job, they can't build up a resume at all. Their careers are delayed or stalled. This is why the effects of the Obama economy will linger long after Obama has left office.
Conn Carroll is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at email@example.com.