Until last Friday we’d been hearing a lot a giddy talk about an economic recovery, but it all seems to have abruptly ended with the release of the latest jobs report.
The numbers were so abysmally bad that even the giddiest talkers didn’t bother to deny it. There was yet another dip in the unemployment rate to a almost respectable-sounding 6.7 percent, but by now everyone knows that isn’t good news. A mere 74,000 new jobs were created in December, most of them low-paying, and the decline is due more to the 535,000 who gave up trying to find work and are thus no longer counted among the unemployed. The number of Americans with jobs is now about the same as it was when the recovery supposedly began in 2009, the number of Americans who have resigned themselves to permanent unemployment is the highest since the days of Jimmy Carter, and the best that the bull such as Heidi Hartman of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research can say about it is “Let’s not panic.”
We expect Hartmann will be satisfied with the lack of panic that ensues. Now that the dismal jobs figures have run their course on the news cycle the press can get back to covering the scandals of Gov. Chris Christie or anyone else who might challenge Hillary Clinton in the next presidential race, the bureaucrats will continue writing regulations and bothering businesses, the Federal Reserve will continue printing money even if enough people drop out of the labor market to achieve that 6.5 percent benchmark that was supposed to put an end to it, Democrats will keep on advocating for bringing in millions more illegal immigrant workers to flood the job market and raising the minimum wage and any other crazy scheme that might worsen the situation, while the Republicans will offer whatever futile resistance they can muster as they bide their time until the mid-term elections. The general public, as least those gainfully employed or with unemployment benefits still coming in the mail, will continue to regard it as normal.
A record number of Americans relegated to permanent unemployment ought to be a big story, prominent enough at least to inform the debate about illegal immigration and the minimum wage and whatever it is that the president hopes to do about income inequality, but the popular preference for other topics is understandable. A significant change in the country’s economic policies can’t occur until after the next president is elected, and if the press can successfully assassinate the character of any of Hillary Clinton’s challengers it will take at least another four years, so for the moment there’s really nothing to be done about it.
Still, we though it worth noting.
— Bud Norman