On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report for the month on May. For the fourth month in a row, American employers added over 200,000 jobs. For May, we saw 217,000 nonfarm payroll jobs added to the economy. Also, the months of March and April, which both saw robust job growth, saw very little revision. Overall, we have finally added back all of the jobs that were lost during the Great Recession. The private sector reached pre-recession levels back in March. However, due to Republican austerity measures that have led to the shedding of a million public sector jobs, it took until now for total employment numbers to reach that goal.
The unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.3%, as did the labor participation rate of 62.8%. Wages saw a slight increase, as the average hourly wage came in at $24.38, up five cents. Over the past year, wages have increased 2.1%, essentially staying in tune with inflation. This is one of the key factors of income inequality, as the average worker’s wage has stayed stagnant compared with the economy while those at the top have seen their income increase at a much greater rate. This is one of the arguments for the increase of the minimum wage. With solid jobs gains and a robust stock market, there should be no real reason why employers can’t increase the lower-end wages up a bit more.
For the most part, this report is good news and show that the economy is recovering. While there are definitely more progressive policies that can be put in place to grow the economy faster and create even more job growth, the fact remains that since Barack Obama took over as President, the nation’s economy has reversed course from the downward spiral it was on. In the first full month of Obama’s presidency (February 2009), the unemployment rate was 8.3% and steadily rising. After hitting a peak of 10.0% in October 2009, we have seen it steadily drop. In the past 12 months, the rate has dropped for 7.5% to its current rate of 6.3%. The private sector has seen robust job growth while the public sector, not so much.
Another thing gleaned from this recent jobs report was the growth in the health care field. The amount of jobs added in May in the health care industry was 34,000. This is twice as much as the average over the past 12 months. It appears that another positive effect of the health care law, other than providing millions of people the ability to obtain affordable health coverage, is that a large increase in new patients means the need for more employees to care for them. We should continue to see more jobs added in the health care industry over the coming years as millions of more uninsured people become insured.
Of course, this new jobs report, and the continued improvement of the economic landscape, will not receive much focus from the media or Republicans in Washington. Right now, conservative media and GOP lawmakers would rather talk about the made-up scandal of the day, the release of an American POW who was held captive for five years. Right now, they are trying to figure out a way to make the deal the President made to secure the release of the nation’s last prisoner of war into an impeachment-level scandal. This comes on the heels of them doing the same thing with the deplorable situation involving the VA, Benghazi (multiple times) and the IRS. Scandalmania took full-effect once the GOP realized they couldn’t hammer the President anymore on Obamacare after it was successfully implemented and millions of people had received health coverage through the exchanges.
Now, we see more positive news showing that the President, despite so much Republican obstruction and obstinance, has still been able to persevere and create positive change for the country as a whole. When history looks back at this period of time, Republicans will not be looked upon kindly.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).