No one has ever embodied that dynamic of failed leadership and shameless hypocrisy as perfectly as the villainous Donald Trump, who memorably slammed the official unemployment rate when he was running for president by accurately claiming “the real unemployment rate” was closer to 40 percent. Miraculously, just 18 months later, our jobless rate has supposedly dropped to 3.9 percent. Meaning it’s plunged like 36 percentage points.
Also, a knowing lie and gigantic sin of omission.
What’s really changed?
Just the audacity of the current occupant of The Oval Office, who praised the 3.9 percent official unemployment rate last month as indicative of “best economy & jobs ever.” Meaning the very economic indicator Trump formerly denigrated for its legendary inaccuracy.
The Trump labor market actually differs little from the one he inherited from Barack Obama 17 months ago, on Feb. 20, 2017. All that’s changed is the president’s affinity for “The Big Lie” and his contempt for the useful idiots who gobble it up like dogs consuming rat poison.
In both cases, the deadly truth is obscured by a tasty outer shell of sweet illusion they find irresistible.
Donnie Bagadonuts’ 40 percent figure was an accurate measurement of just how many of Americans 16-and-older were really without work when he first rolled it out in August of 2015, in response to the official 5.4 percent unemployment rate then being reported for July 2015.
Donnie Bagadonuts was clearly citing a little known labor indicator called the “Employment-to-Population Ratio” kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in lieu of the official unemployment rate. It said 59.7 percent of Americans 16-and-old were employed full-time in July 2015. Ergo, 40.3 were not. His number.
Mr. Bagadonuts got that right.
Here’s the problem though: while the official unemployment rate has fallen since he took office, the more accurate unemployment-to-population rate he preferred as candidate is almost unchanged. Meaning Donnie hasn’t really done a damn thing to make the economy better.
The employment-to-population ratio was 60.6 percent in May. Ergo, Trump’s “real unemployment rate” was actually 39.4 percent.
What’s the difference between 40.3 percent real unemployment and 39.4 percent real unemployment?
A single combover hair.
To make matters even worse, the ratio is a lot more reliable than the official U.S. unemployment rate. Politicians prefer the official unemployment rate because it stops counting most idled workers after they exhaust their unemployment benefits and give up looking for work each week. That conceals the true state of a job market being decimated by automation, age discrimination and corporate cost-cutting.
Most unemployed people don’t look for work three times every week as they must to receive a check during the six month unemployment benefits period. They apply for a dozen jobs one week and none the next as they update their resume, references and website or the like.
Nothing really changes except whether they’re still being counted as unemployed or not.
In a dismal labor market like the one we have right now, the official unemployment rate can actually go down when things stay bad as idled workers become invisible. That’s what Trump was really alluding to when he bragged about the record low unemployment rate for blacks.
It’s not low because more black people are working. It’s low because so many lost full-time jobs during The Great Recession, never secured another full-time job and eventually abandoned their job searches. The same dynamic is happening across the board among the masses and is the reason we’re seeing record suicide and drug overdose rates.
How big a knowing lie is Trump’s opportunistic switch from the employment-to-population ratio to the official unemployment rate he once disparaged as inaccurate?
To quote the liar-in-chief himself: “It’s huge.”
The employment situation report for May told us the U.S. labor market created 223,000 more non-farm jobs in May on a seasonally adjusted basis. That sounds like an awful lot until you read the fine print and learn we added 182,000 people to the civilian labor force that month as the flow of new workers outpaced retirees.
That’s the number of recent grads, dropouts and immigrants who just started looking for work for the first time. Once you subtract these new entrants to the labor force from the 223,000 jobs we created in May, you wind up with a net gain for the month of just 41,000 jobs.
By ignoring that part of the report, economic journalists advance the myth that every job created represents a net gain. They also conceal the painful truth that many of our labor market’s monthly gains are really net losses.
I know because I was one of them. I wrote up news articles about these economic indicators and roughly 20 others for a global audience when I worked for Bloomberg News from 2004 to 2008.
The White House and Wall Street run a similar scam with U.S. housing indicators like new home sales, existing home sales, pending home sales, and housing starts. Take new home sales for instance…
Officially, the U.S. sold 689,000 new homes in May on a seasonally adjusted and annualized basis to post a 14 percent gain over the same month a year earlier. However, the painful truth is that we really sold just 65,000 homes.
Government economists projected we’d wind up with 689,000 if we continued at the same sales pace for a full year. That’s the “annualized” number. The seasonal adjustments occur when they fudge the monthly sales number again in the winter to compensate for the storms that keep people from looking at new homes.
Here’s what they don’t tell you:
1) Once you adjust the May sales of new homes for all 327 million Americans the projected annual rate is 2,107 new home sales per million Americans.
3) From 1963 to 2011, new home sales in the U.S. averaged 2,719 per million. That’s 23 percent better than now.
So, what’s good about the present U.S. housing and labor markets?
They’re not quite as bad as they were at the height of The Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. Otherwise, nothing.
According to Donnie Bagadonuts, jobs are plentiful and the economy is balling. However, the data I’ve seen suggests he’s full of shit. It also suggests Obama was full of shit, George W. Bush was full of shit and Bill Clinton was full of shit.
It’s a friggin mathematical magic trick which misleads the electorate. No more and no less.
If I pulled that garbage I’d ignore the truth, make like Donnie Bagadonuts, and issue a misleading press release claiming there will be more beef at this year’s barbecue – the most ever – and take a victory lap at the picnic while the people I serve go hungry.
Yummy, yum, yum.
Lap it up morons. Lap it up the fuck up.
But don’t ask me to sit here and cheer you on. Because I won’t do that.
First, because I still love this country too much to pretend all is well when it’s not. Much less watch the faltering middle class be duped and destroyed by the little dick motherfuckers who now pass for leaders in our society.
As Confucius once said: “The first step toward wisdom is to call things by their right name.”
So let’s do that.
Our leaders are “corrupt, lying scum” right now. In both Wall Street parties.