The economy takes a step backward

The economy takes a step backward

obama press conference4On Apr. 2, 2010 President Obama, ebullient over the addition of 162,000 jobs the month before, announced:

Today is an encouraging day. We learned that the economy actually produced a substantial number of jobs instead of losing a substantial number of jobs. We are turning the corner.

Hedging his bets, he added a cautionary note: “We shouldn’t underestimate the difficulties we face,” he said. “We’re still going through a hard time.”

He has reprised the same scenario roughly as many times as he promised Americans that if they liked their health care plans, they could keep their health care plans. And the shtick about turning a corner has had the same truth value.

From today’s Associated Press via Boston.com:

U.S. employers added a scant 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years. The disappointing figure ends 2013 on a weak note and raises questions about whether the job market can sustain its recent gains.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell from 7 percent in November to 6.7 percent, the lowest level since October 2008. But the drop occurred mostly because many Americans stopped looking for jobs. Once people without jobs stop looking for one, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.

Stock futures fell after the report was released. And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.93 percent about 10 minutes after the report was released from 2.97 late Thursday.

It’s unclear whether the sharp hiring slowdown might lead the Federal Reserve to rethink its plan to slow stimulus efforts. The Fed decided last month to pare its monthly bond purchases, which are designed to lower interest rates.

The jobs picture is grimmer for Millennials. A press release from Generation Opportunity, a youth advocacy organization, spells out the details:

  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds, which adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work, is15.9 percent (NSA). The (U-3) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is 9.5 percent (NSA).
  • The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.880 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.
  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans is24.2 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 16.7 percent (NSA).
  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics is 16.8 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 10.5 percent (NSA).
  • The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old women is 13.7 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 8.5 percent (NSA).

In the meantime, Obama, wearing his favorite hat (the one reading community-organizer-in-chief), blathers on about “promise zones” and cooperative (read: coercive) efforts with business owners. Which answers the question in the title of this post in one of two ways: (1) When pigs fly. (2) When the White House has a new tenant.

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