The electron microscope recovery

Today’s unemployment report for April is a good way to detect “low-information voters.”  If you’re talking to someone who thinks the April report is great news, you’re either dealing with a low-information voter, or the spinmeisters who control them.

There’s a bit of mildly encouraging news on the surface – the official U-3 unemployment rate ticked down from 7.6 percent to 7.5, beating low expectations set by a dismal March report (which was itself revised upward, by a fairly astonishing 50,000 jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics somehow didn’t detect at first.)  For a change, the U-3 improvement was not accomplished by shrinking the workforce, which has been a common theme in previous “mildly encouraging” job reports.

But you really don’t have to dig very far into the data to find the bad news, and any media outlet that doesn’t perform that minimal digging is working as a White House press agency, not a news organization.  The amount of part-time, temporary, and low-wage work propping up those April job numbers is extremely disturbing.  The transition of America to a part-time burger-flipper workforce continues full-steam ahead; it’s a more pronounced trend than almost anything else you could glean from studying the past two or three years of job data.  Anyone old enough to remember the Bush days of 4 and 5 percent unemployment knows the media used to be very concerned about such trends.

But even without digging into the internals of the job report, it’s painfully obvious that we’re not enjoying any sort of robust “recovery.”  The benefits of such a recovery would not be debatable.  We wouldn’t be settling for little 0.1 percent drops in the unemployment rate, or breathing a sigh of relief that the workforce is holding steady at a 34-year low.  We’re much too far out from the “official” end of the previous recession to be seeing month after month of mediocrity like this.  

After Obama’s wild “stimulus” spending spree, we shouldn’t be looking at unemployment levels two or three percent higher than what he promised, or recovery rates that would take a decade to restore full employment.  The horror stories told by his apologists about the depths Obama supposedly “saved” us from grow increasingly fanciful.

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