The Bureau of Labor Statistics released September’s employment figures on Friday and it was almost entirely good news. The economy added 248,000 new jobs during the month and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9%. This is the lowest level the jobless rate has been since July 2008 and reiterates that President Obama has helped to resuscitate a moribund economy that was suffering through a horrific financial crisis when he took over. The BLS also revised jobs numbers upwards for the months of August and July, revealing that we actually added 61,000 more jobs than previously estimated during those two months.
The country is essentially at full employment now. Economists state that for a nation to be at full, healthy employment, the unemployment rate needs to be between 5.5% and 6.0%. These numbers helpfully point out that the country is indeed better off than it was when Barack Obama was first sworn in. When Obama took office in January 2009, the country was in the grips of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That month, the unemployment rate stood at 7.8% and climbing. The next month, it rose to 8.3% and kept rising until it hit a peak of 10.0% in October 2009. However, President Obama’s stimulus package, along with other initiatives, helped create jobs and reverse the trend.
In 2014 alone, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.3 percentage points and 1.9 million jobs have been added. Therefore, whenever you hear someone like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claim that “Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country,” as he has done numerous times, you know he is completely full of it. Seriously, since the full implementation of the law last year, the country has added well over 2 million jobs. If a law is a ‘job killer,’ shouldn’t it actually be killing jobs?
The labor force participation rate remained mostly unchanged at 62.7%. While conservatives will claim that this number shows that there are a lot of people that are discouraged and just giving up on finding work, the majority of this is attributed to baby boomers retiring, students either going to school or remaining in school for post-graduate programs and two-parent households where one partner decides to stay at home to raise children. Is there a large number of long-term unemployed that need assistance? Certainly. Of course, you don’t see Republicans doing anything about providing additional unemployment insurance to these people.
Where improvement needs to be seen is in the median wage. Wages remained stagnant in September, as the median wage actually dropped one cent, down to $24.53 an hour. Now, raising the minimum wage, even modestly, would do quite a bit to push this number up and provide additional income to working class people. Once again, while this is an easy solution, Republicans have stood firm and refused to do anything about it. Therefore, we are stuck with a minimum wage that is not in line with today’s economic needs.
Still, these numbers do reflect that President Obama has made things better for Americans since first taking office. However, you wouldn’t know it based on all of the doom-and-gloom naysayers, many from his own party, that make it seem that Obama is set out to destroy America and its economy. The man inherited a total mess, and while there are still improvements that need to be made, and income inequality is a real issue in this country, this nation is exponentially better off than it was when George W. Bush vacated the White House. Democrats need to embrace the President and what he’s done for this nation during the midterms this year, instead of falling over themselves trying to create a distance between them and Obama.