President Obama announced two weeks ago that “the private sector is doing fine.” Though he later backpedaled from this remark, he stood by his fundamental contention that the private sector was creating large numbers of jobs, and that more money needed to be spent by the government to keep up the public-sector pace. A series of new reports shows the private sector is doing anything but fine, and that government-created jobs are a waste of taxpayer money.
Last week, 387,000 new unemployment claims were filed, down by 2,000 from the previous week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This feel-good headline was only made possible because the BLS revised the previous week’s numbers upward by 3,000. In fact, the BLS has raised the weekly claims number after-the-fact every week this year. This accounting trick has allowed the government to report only four weeks of new jobless-claim increases over the last four months. In the same period, however, the actual number of new unemployed increased by 40,000 per week, and the trend is upward.
As the number of people leaving jobs is increasing, the number of jobs being created is declining. On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that job listings dropped from 3.7 million to 3.4 million between March and April. This means that for every job opening, there are 3.7 unemployed people vying for it. The situation is much worse if the underemployed and the millions of discouraged workers who are officially uncounted are included.
The latest numbers from the Agriculture Department show a record 22.3 million households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps). This is up from 14.5 million when Mr. Obama took office. The increase is good news according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. In August, he said food stamps are “the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times” that he claims somehow returns $1.84 for every dollar spent. Over half-a-million new families are on food stamps since Mr. Vilsack made that statement, though for some reason the White House isn’t bragging about it.
Mr. Obama believes the way to solve the employment crisis is to pump more money into the public sector. A new report from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory demonstrates how wasteful that approach has been. A study of two years of “renewable-energy projects” supported by the Obama administration’s “stimulus” program found $9 billion spent on wind- and solar-energy projects created only 910 direct and 4,600 indirect jobs, or an average of $1.6 million per job created. The Obama team came to Washington promising “green jobs” would save both the economy and the planet, but that vision has evaporated. The Solyndra debacle illustrated the risks of government playing the role of venture capitalist; this new Energy Department data show that even when the investments aren’t swallowed by mismanagement and bankruptcy, they are still boondoggles that chiefly benefit White House cronies and not the workforce at large.
Adding billions of dollars of new government debt to underwrite inefficient programs only means the number of unemployed Americans will continue to increase - no matter what the fudged official jobless rate claims.
The Washington Times
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