News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 13, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Oct. 13, 2012


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Jobless rates do not show progress

The headline of your editorial in the Oct. 7 paper reads, “Politics aside, new jobs report shows progress.” Then you proceeded to talk mostly politics and present facts that show just the opposite from progress.

The important facts you presented, but tried to dismiss as just “far from glowing,” are “employers created 114,000 jobs last month”; and, “The level of job creation necessary to match population growth is 125,000.” I would think that any rational human would understand that job creation not keeping up with  population growth is NOT making progress but shows job availability dropping behind more and more every month.

In your editorial you highlighted the point that the unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time in Obama’s term. That’s your measure of progress and something apparently to be celebrated. You failed to note that it only fell to that level because about 600,000 more people answered yes to the question, “Aren’t you at least working a little bit?” In today’s new normal, even part-time work is used to lower the unemployment rate. To me a rate that is more than twice that of a normal economy is not something to celebrate.

For this stage of a recovery, 7.8 percent is horrible. But even worse, the rate would be 10.7 percent if the same number of people were still in the labor force as when Obama took office. The rate is 7.8 percent because millions of people have just given up looking for work.

To put the issue in stark human terms, if the recovery from this recession was an average recovery, 4 million more people would be working today. If it was equivalent to the recovery under Reagan, 6 million more people would be working. These are real people languishing on unemployment pay and food stamps because of the misguided policies of Obama.

If there is any doubt that the economy is not “going in the right direction” as Obama and apparently you would have us believe, we just need to look at the most important economic measure, growth in the gross domestic product (GDP Growth). This measure was only 1.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012, which was just concluded. This compares to 2010-2.4 percent, 2011-2.0 percent and the first half of 2012-1.7 percent.

Again, any rational person can see that this rapidly declining growth rate is not progress but evidence of an economy probably headed for another recession. (As a bit of an aside, most economist say that GDP growth must be above 3 percent for a sustained period to bring down the unemployment rate. This is the source of the skepticism regarding the drop to 7.8 percent that you are so proud of.)

At the end of your editorial, you assumed you can speak for both sides of the political divide and made the statement that, “both sides acknowledged the bottom-line reality — the latest jobs report shows a step in the right direction.”

Well, Mr. Editor, I’m on one side and I can tell you that I don’t acknowledge it. Your statement is not only absurd but shows an alarming lack of understanding and political bias on this issue.

— Thomas B. Tucker

Vigo County