By Chad Stafko
There's an old adage, "Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story."
That could be the battle cry within the Obama administration when it comes to Obama's work on the economy through his five plus years as president. But a close and objective look at the facts shows that the Obama-led and Obama-owned economy tells one and only one story -- FAILURE.
Let's begin on the labor front, where the numbers are atrocious. While the monthly unemployment rate is the headline-grabbing number so many flock to, it is far from the best gauge of labor market strength.
The unemployment rate currently stands at 7.3%. Obama backers will point to the fact... again let's look at the facts, and rightfully say that the unemployment rate has steadily fallen from its peak of 10% in October 2009 and has remained below 8% since August 2012. These are indeed facts, but they mask the underlying and quite troubling data.
Understand that the unemployment rate is a rather simplistic calculation. The numerator is composed of the number of people unemployed and who have looked for work in the past four weeks. That number is then divided by the total number of individuals in the labor force.
Simple math tells us that this figure can decline in a number of ways. The natural inclination for many is to assume that the unemployment percentage is dropping because the numerator, again measured by the total number of unemployed people actively seeking work, is declining due to these folks having found work. Not so, however.
The reason the number has been declining is that the denominator, which is composed of the total labor force in America, continues to fall. In fact, the overall labor force declined by 312,000 in August, which is the most recent data available. That means 312,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force in August. In other words, they gave up looking for a job.
The far more accurate and factual representation of the labor market is the labor force participation rate. It paints a far purer picture. This rate is simply the percent of the population who are either working or actively looking for work. In other words, these individuals are engaged in the labor market.
Here's the cold hard facts in that regard. The labor force participation rate fell to 63.2% in August, its lowest level since 1978. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. We have the lowest percent of people participating in the labor market in 35 years. Note also that this rate is has continued to decline since the recession supposedly ended in June 2009.
So, here we are five and a half years into the Obama presidency and we have the lowest percent of Americans working since 1978. That is an undeniable fact.
There is even more evidence pointing towards the atrocity that is the Obama-led and owned U.S. labor market. According to a report released September 30th by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, only about half of adults in their late 20s -- let me emphasize late 20s -- were working full-time as of 2012. That figure was derived from official U.S. census data.
Let's put that in perspective. These are adults, if they went in the military, who would be halfway or more towards the minimum service time for retirement, yet half of these adults don't even have a full-time job.
They could instead be theoretically college-educated with six or seven years of experience, yet half are jobless.
Stick with the young adults for a moment and suppose you're one of them and fortunate enough to have a full-time job. What about your earnings? Are you making a good living within the Obama economy?
The answer, again based upon facts, is an emphatic "No."
That same Georgetown University study showed that young adults working are now 30 years of age before they earn $42,000 per year. Back in 1980, it took you only to the age of 26 to earn that much money per year.
Stay with me on the earnings front and consider these figures. As of 2012, the median U.S. household inflation-adjusted income was $51,017. That figure has dropped every year during Obama's tenure as president... every single year. Also, it is at its lowest level since 1995. What that means is we're earning no more than a typical household was in 1995, almost 20 years ago. Again, ignore the noise from the Oval Office, these are the facts.
Even the poorest of the poor have had it worse under Obama. Last year 15% of Americans were considered to be living in poverty with little sign of improvement, a theme characterizing the poor throughout the Obama presidency. That percentage equates to some 46.5 million Americans.
But what about the business community? How have they fared in the Obama-led and Obama-owned economy? Not well, to say the least.
Through September 2013, corporations have announced 387,384 job cuts. Over the first nine months of 2012, 386,000 job reductions were announced by corporations. So, some simple math tells us that equates to zero improvement in the corporate job market year-over-year. Again, those are the facts.
We've seen some of these massive job cut announcements in business headlines throughout the year. For example, Cisco Systems announced it would cut 4,000 employees and IBM laid off an undisclosed number of employees across the company, with some estimating that figure to be between 6,000-8,000.
Not to be outdone, the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, one of the largest employers in the state of Ohio, recently stated that it plans to offer early retirement to some 3,000 workers. Those reductions appear to have been due to ObamaCare, as Clinic spokesperson Eileen Sheil, stated that the cuts were due to the fact that "Hospital systems have to become much more efficient to make health care affordable to patients in the future."
All of these negative aspects of the Obama economy, from joblessness to poor-paying jobs to outright poverty, has resulted in challenging times for Americans. In fact, according to an Associated Press report from this summer, a whopping four out of five Americans are struggling to make ends meet financially. For some that may be hard to fathom... 80% of Americans are having issues meeting their financial obligations.
How can anyone therefore possibly believe that President Obama has been an economic success with a large majority of the American population financially struggling?
Whether you think of economic progress by the number of Americans employed, or their level of earnings, or whether the poor are escaping poverty, the cold hard facts reveal that the Obama-led and owned economy has been and remains a disaster.
Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org