Heading into the home stretch of the midterm elections, attention appears to be focused on the Ebola virus, although not so much on the 10-year Republican cuts to the CDC and NIH that could have stopped the virus in Africa. Interestingly there has not been much noise from Democrats about why they allowed the NRA, and Rand Paul, to obstruct the President’s appointment of Dr. Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General to both inform and calm Americans’ fears about the potential of a massive epidemic. What is absolutely stunning, though, is the relative silence on two new economic reports that put a stake in the economic agenda Republicans are frothing at the mouth to enact should they win control of Congress.
Yesterday, it was revealed by the Labor Department that the number of people seeking unemployment aid dropped to the lowest level in 14 years. It is yet another positive sign of a strengthening labor market that should calm concerns about weak economic growth globally. In fact, analysts were cheering the unexpectedly strong data that the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, Ian Shepherdson, described as “spectacular and astonishing.” He also remarked that “Whether claims can be sustained at such a low level – an all-time low, as a share of payroll employment – is debatable, but this is a clear signal of real strength in the labor market.”
Economists say that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, dropped 4,250 to 283,500, and is at the lowest level since June 2000; a full six months before the Supreme Court appointed economic disaster George W. Bush as president. Employers added 248,000 jobs last month adding to the good hiring news in the previous two months that helped push the unemployment rate down to 5.9 percent, a six-year low. Thus far the economy under President Obama has added 2.64 million jobs over the past year alone that is the best “annual showing since April 2006.” In fact, in August the number of available jobs soared to a 13-year high according to another government report that economic experts enthusiastically claim will drive employers to continue hiring “at a healthy clip in the coming months.”
However, some employers say that although they have plenty of open positions available, they have been slow to fill them due to a lack of workers with the right skills. That is clearly not true. Economists dispute the “lack of skills” argument and say the real problem is that businesses are not offering adequate pay to attract what the experts claim are an “over-abundance of qualified applicants” who are unwilling to work for poverty-level wages.
This news alone should be a campaign bonanza for Democrats on two fronts. First, they should mercilessly hammer Republicans across the country for opposing raising the minimum wage that would elevate the prevailing wage in all sectors. Democrats should also highlight that the continuously improving job numbers are proof positive that the Republican “trickle down” scam of giving the wealthy greater tax cuts coupled with destroying regulations is the only way to create jobs and grow the economy. The job numbers have continued to improve despite the wealthy getting a small tax hike starting in 2013 while workplace, environmental, and financial regulation remain firmly in place.
The other encouraging economic news yesterday was that U.S. manufacturing output rose in September led by gains in the aerospace, furniture, clothing, and plastics industries. According to the Federal Reserve, factory production in September rose by 0.5% to bring the past 12 month manufacturing output numbers to a very healthy 3.7% and again, that is with no Republican deregulation or tax cuts. The news is further proof that America’s labor force is not, as Republicans claim, a bunch of lazy moochers that need to “learn the value and culture of responsibility and hard work.”
The chief U.S. economist at Capital economics, Paul Ashworth, reported that the manufacturing gains are a good sign American manufacturers are “successfully weathering the dampened performance of the global economy.” He also said that a good sign of America’s economic health is that “the slowdowns evident in China and the euro-zone are not having the devastating impact on the U.S. economy that the financial markets now apparently believe.”
There was even more good economic news as the Fed report on industrial performance revealed that output from utilities “surged by 3.9% last month, and mining output grew by 1.8%” in the same period to “advance to 9.1% over the past year.” Overall, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4.2% during the second quarter that economists say will spur increased consumer spending due to gains in employment.
The growth at the national level decimates the Republican arguments that unless Washington adopts the economically disastrous Koch “red-state model” Mitch McConnell promises to inflict on the entire nation, the economy is doomed. For the uninformed, the storied “red-state model” entails epic tax cuts for the rich and corporations in conjunction with eliminating all environmental, financial, and workplace regulations Republicans claim is the only way to create jobs and grow the economy. Every Republican-led state putting the Koch’s “model” in place is suffering gross revenue shortfalls, non-existent job creation, credit downgrades, job losses, and severe cuts to services across the board, but primarily for the underprivileged.
With the continued promising economic news, it is curious that any Democrat is wary of aligning themselves closely with the Obama Administration. Two weeks ago the President opened the door for Democrats to highlight the differences between Republican economic failures and the Obama Administration economic recovery after their eight-year economic disaster they are bound and determined to enact again. Americans may not be the smartest people on the face of the Earth, but they are aware the economy is recovering and that the lion’s share of the growth is going straight to the top one-percent. Democrats have been handed yet another set of facts to aid their electoral prospects in just a couple of weeks, and it is beyond comprehension why they are not contrasting Republican economic failures with the President’s economic successes every waking minute right up to Election Day.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.