Labor Secretary Tom Perez presented an impressively rosy — and highly misleading — picture of the jobs situation during President Obama’s tenure in a Labor Day posting on the department’s website.
Our grit and determination have been put to the test recently as we have endured the most crippling recession in 80 years. But now we are turning the corner. In the past 41 months, we have created 7.3 million jobs. The auto industry, which was flat on its back a few year ago, is surging again. Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2008. And the economy continues to grow as we provide affordable health care for every American. But there is no question we can and must do more. Our common agenda must be jobs, jobs, jobs.
Perez’s claim that 7.3 million jobs have been created counts only that: jobs created. It doesn’t factor jobs lost during Obama’s administration. It’s sort of like a gamble only counting his winnings and ignoring his losses.
As the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org noted in July, the net jobs creation number under Obama is the considerably smaller figure of 2.27 million.
Even that provides a misleading picture as Washington Post liberal blogger Ezra Klein pointed out on Aug. 1, citing data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The problem is the number of working-age adults with jobs has “barely budged” since 2008:
At the beginning of 2007, the employment rate was 63.3 percent, and the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. By the end of 2009 — so, after the worst of the recession — it had fallen to 58.3 percent, and unemployment was up to 9.9 percent. Today, it’s 58.7 percent, even though unemployment has fallen to 7.6 percent. That means a lot of the people who’ve left the rolls of the unemployed haven’t gotten a new job. They’ve just left the labor force altogether.
In short, the jobs picture isn’t getting better — People are just giving up. That’s the reality the labor secretary refuses to acknowledge.