Obama's jobs spin focuses on 27 not-so-bad months

WASHINGTON Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:23am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama smiles while answering questions in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington, June 8, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama smiles while answering questions in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington, June 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For anyone puzzled by President Barack Obama's comment last week that the private sector is "doing fine," it might help to put on his administration's blinders and focus on the last two years.

Obama and his staff have taken pains to regularly remind the public that the U.S. economy has been adding jobs every month since March of 2010, for a total of 4.3 million new jobs.

That is about the same pace of job creation as occurred after the 1990-1991 and 2001 recessions, according to Yale economist Benjamin Polak - a heartening sign that the American job machine isn't much weaker than it has been over the last few decades.

Perhaps that is what Obama meant when he said "the private sector is doing fine" at a news conference on Friday, a remark Republicans jumped on to paint the president as out of touch with economic reality.

Obama, who faces a tough bid for re-election in November, sought later to clarify his views, saying the economy was "not doing fine" - a recognition that the recovery has left many Americans behind.

The 2007-2009 recession was so spectacularly deep that even after 27 straight months of job creation, the private sector has 4.6 million fewer jobs than it did in January 2008.

"The problem is we're not climbing out of a valley this time. It's a canyon," said Polak.

Over a wider time frame, the jobs picture looks even more somber.

Private-sector employment is at roughly the same level as it was in 2001, even though the population has grown. Some economists say the United States has already experienced a lost decade.

Obama also mentioned corporations' "record profits" as a sign of private-sector health. And indeed, late last year after-tax corporate profits made up their biggest share of national income since 1929, according to one government measure.


Obama's political gaffe came as he was making the case for further deficit spending to help spur the recovery, including efforts to help stem job losses among cash-strapped state and local governments.

Since March 2010, the public sector has eliminated more than 500,000 jobs as police, teachers and other government employees have been let go. Unlike the federal government, most state and local governments must balance their budgets each year.

The last three years of job losses at the state and local government level have been the most dramatic on records dating to 1955.

One purpose of Obama's news conference was to press Republicans to act.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney charged that the remarks showed that Obama was hostile to business and wanted to fix the economy by expanding the size of government.

"He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers," Romney said on Friday. "It's time for us to cut back on government."

Romney may have made a misstep of his own with his response by citing local government workers who provide services that are readily apparent to voters. "Romney wants to cut these jobs," said Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager.

There would be well over a million more U.S. jobs today if public-sector employment had grown at the same pace it did after other recent recessions. That would put the unemployment rate between 7 percent and 7.3 percent, instead of the current 8.2 percent, according to Polak.

Even then, Obama would still likely be under pressure.

(Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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Comments (5)
Vets2Work wrote:
Let’s start creating jobs in the USA one call at a time.

On average most people believe a call center worker in the Philippines is making only $8.00 dollars per day. In most cases this is correct but what you don’t know is USA companies are paying upwards of $14.00 to 26.00 per hour for these employees. We are creating millionaires offshore from jobs lost in the USA. In some cases the companies themselves own and operate the offshore call center therefore moving these profits offshore.

We all need to do our part in moving these jobs back to the USA and we can do so one call at a time. The next time you either make/receive a call into a customer support, tech support or billing ask the person on the other end what country they are working from. If it is anything else but the USA politely ask for a USA person. You may be placed on hold and or transferred to a supervisor for they don’t want to lose the revenue but be persistent. By spending an additional 5 minutes doing this you will be creating demand for the call center located in the USA and they will add more people.

Please share this with you friends and family and let’s take back our jobs.

Jun 12, 2012 9:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ChuckK wrote:
Unlike the below post, I’ve actually been in a business that had taken advantage of “offshore” workers. The assertion that somehow the $8/hr wage climbs to $14 to $26/hr is the latest ignorant chain email garbage spewed forth by those that simply don’t know what they are talking about, but it sounds good, huh? All one has to do is ask “Why would any company actually pay more for offshore labor?” It makes no business sense whatsoever to do that, so go check out snopes for a reality check.

My biggest issue with Obama and his touting 4.3M jobs is his aversion to citing the KIND of jobs that were created. They are lower paying than the ones they replaced. That is not progress. It’s also hard for him to justify following the same failed mindset that 27 countries in the EU followed – “let’s borrow our way towards prosperity”. That concept realizes short-term gains, but creates serious long-term economic problems as our kids will have to pay for all that debt.

Things might be better for democrats if they could point to an example of where they have created economic prosperity. But they haven’t. All they have done is arrogantly believe “if only liberal policies were enacted properly, we’d be better off.” It’s truly sad that people think that Obama and his democrat comrades are the only ones on the planet that can make liberalism work – despite the numerous examples of economic failures.

Ironically, some democrats have come out in favor of Bush’s tax policies as the best thing to do… I wonder why?

Jun 12, 2012 12:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SBN2012 wrote:
The economy will continue to grow as more people are hired and government is supportive; especially to small organizations.

Jun 12, 2012 12:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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