The media celebrated Friday as the Department of Labor announced a “surge of hiring” – 248,000 new jobs added in September. The unemployment rate has now dropped to 5.9 percent.
The Labor Department also revised upward the jobs numbers from July and August, adding 69,000 jobs; that puts the last three months of job growth at 671,000. The Associated Press, among others, speculates that the Federal Reserve may now talk about raising interest rates.
But all is not well in the real economy. Here are five indicators that despite the rosy picture being painted of the Obama economy, things still aren’t booming for the average American:
Labor Participation Rate at Historic Lows. If we measured the number of people who are working part time rather than full time, as well as those who are not technically “unemployed” because they are not looking for jobs, the actual unemployment rate remains stuck at 11.8 percent. In September, 100,000 people dropped out of the workforce entirely, placing America’s work participation rate at 62.7 percent, the lowest in 36 years, with almost 93 million Americans who could be working not doing so.
Average Hourly Wage Stagnates. The current average hourly wage is stuck at $24.53, a two percent bump over the last year, as the AP notes. But even the AP admits, “In a healthy economy, wages usually rise 3.5 percent to 4 percent a year.”
That’s particularly true given that food prices have increased at about two percent over the last year, according to the Farm Bureau. Some food items are up dramatically more than that: ground chuck, up 17 percent; bacon, up 9 percent; eggs, up 7 percent.
The Jobs Being Created Are Low-Level. The unemployment rate dropped most dramatically among those who are high school educated or have less than a college degree; over the past year, the unemployment rate among people 25 and older without a high school degree has dropped from 10.4 percent to 8.4 percent; for those who graduated high school but not college, the rate dropped from 7.5 percent to 5.3 percent. The declines have been significantly more modest among the highly educated. As the New York Times reported back in April, “Most of the jobs added during the recover have been in lower-wage industries.”
Women in the Labor Force Drop. As CNSNews.com reports, “A record 55,553,000 women 16 years and older did not participate in the labor force in September.” The labor participation rate for women is the lowest it has been since September 1988, standing at 56.7 percent.
Black Unemployment Remains Sky-High. The August jobs report showed black unemployment rate at 11.4 percent.
The most stagnant portion of the economy remains manufacturing – precisely the portion of the economy President Obama is pushing on National Manufacturing Day. Today, in fact, Obama stated that manufacturing was growing quickly, although just 4,000 manufacturing jobs were added in September.
And now, Obama wants to push for more income equality. If this recovery has been less than peachy-keen so far, more of the same could heighten its effects.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.