Of the 144 million Americans employed last month, only 116 million were working full-time. Friday’s jobs report showed that just 58.7% of the civilian adult population of 245 million was working last month. Only 47% of adult civilians, however, had a full-time job.
The report highlights yet more proof of the lack of economic recovery under this administration’s policies. As Gary W. Patterson, Jr. and I covered in detail last month, this has been the weakest recovery since the 1930s. This should come as no surprise since we have been following the same policy prescriptions that resulted in the longest period of economic misery in our nation’s history.
Due to the lack of economic growth and job opportunity stemming from this administration’s aggressive regulatory strangulation and the burden of numerous additional costs being imposed on the private sector (from Obamacare to higher tax rates), the number of means-tested welfare recipients is hitting new historic highs. A record 70.4 million Americans — or 20% of the country — are now on Medicaid, at a cost of $404.1 billion (both federal and state spending). A record 47.8 million Americans – or 15% of the country – are now on food stamps at a cost of $74.6 billion. A record 10.9 million Americans are now collecting Social Security disability payments with a deficit tab of $31.2 billion. That’s a cost of more than half a trillion dollars for those three programs alone.
Also at an all-time record high is part-time employment. In June, the household survey reported that part-time jobs soared by 360,000 to 28,059,000. Full-time jobs? Down 240,000. So far in 2013, just 130,000 full-time jobs have been added, offset by a whopping 557,000 part-time jobs.
The reasons for this are numerous. To businesses, the benefits associated with employing part-time workers are countless: avoiding substantial benefits-related costs, evading long-term job contracts, hourly basis wages, etc. In fact, as long as the Obama administration’s policies prevent strong economic growth (and they will for quite a while according to the non-partisan CBO, which concludes that any signs of economic recovery aren’t visible for the remainder of this administration’s term and a poor job market is looking to be the new normal), employers will have even more leverage, while workers have less (and are forced to agree to any employment terms, as long as they get some paycheck at all).
This also comes on the heels of a revised Q1 report of GDP growth, which ended up falling to 1.8% from its earlier estimate of 2.4%. The revision was due largely to slower growth in consumption, which eased to a 2.6% gain from the earlier estimate of 3.4%. Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of economic output, was likely hit by a rise in payroll taxes at the start of the year and relatively stagnant incomes.
As Director Edward Leamer of the UCLA Anderson Forecast succinctly put it, “It’s not a recovery. It’s not even normal growth. It’s bad.”
This administration’s goals for the second term now seem to be lowering expectations and convincing everyone from stock traders to job seekers to settle for weak to mediocre growth, and it’s working. According to Gallup, less than 40% of Americans feel optimistic about the future – the most negative feedback the country has produced since the Carter administration in 1979.