The Edmond Sun

Opinion

May 7, 2012

Lackluster unemployment numbers still show progress

EDMOND — Terrible? Really? I remember terrible and this isn’t it. On Friday the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. economy added an estimated 115,000 jobs in the month of April. The number, which was well below consensus estimates, was disappointing. Many economists had been hoping that job growth, which averaged 230,000 new jobs monthly during the first quarter, would continue to strengthen as we head into spring. It appears though, that job growth is slowing.

While many economists expressed disappointment at the latest jobs numbers, former Massachusetts governor, and certain Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney called the report “terrible.” I understand that in the midst of a political campaign that political hyperbole often takes over, but “terrible?” Really? I cannot help but think of the line from one of the all-time great movies (The Princess Bride), “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

In the past three months of the Bush administration, the private sector had shed 2.3 million jobs. That was terrible. In the most recent three months of the Obama administration, the private sector has added 550,000. That is progress. During the eight years of the Bush Administration the private sector actually lost nearly 650,000 jobs. That was terrible. During the Obama Administration the private sector has actually added jobs. This is progress.

In fact, the Obama economy has had 26 consecutive months of private-sector job growth and in that time has added 4.2 million new jobs including more than 2 million in the past year alone. Furthermore, in just the first four months of this year, private-sector job growth already has surpassed five of the eight years from the Bush presidency, and is on pace to log the highest growth since 1999. This is progress.

After all, when it comes to changes in employment positive numbers are better than negative ones.

Yes, it could have been better. We could have seen faster employment growth and declining unemployment. The blame though lies not with the president’s economic policies, but with Congress’ obstinacy. A close look at the data reveals an important fact — Congress failed to do enough to support employment growth during this recovery. While the private-sector has been expanding and creating jobs for 26 months, the public sector has been shrinking — shedding more than 500,000 jobs.

How does this compare to the first 26 months of the last three economic recoveries? In the first 26 months of the recovery from the 1981 recession (which occurred during the Reagan administration) government employment grew by 425,000 (2.7 percent) jobs. During the first 26 months of recovery from the 1991 recession, government employment grew by 562,000 jobs (3.0 percent). Even during the Bush Administration, government employment grew by 257,000 jobs (1.2 percent) during the first 26 months of the recovery from the 2001 recession.

Economics tells us this is what governments should do. During recessions, governments should respond by increasing spending and boosting government employment (which includes local, state and federal workers). This provides additional spending in the economy boosting overall economic activity. And previously, under both Republican and Democratic presidents that is exactly what happened. This time though, Congressional Republicans have stonewalled the president’s efforts to provide additional economic stimulus. If government employment in this recovery had grown at the same pace as the in the Reagan and Clinton recoveries there would be an additional 1.1 million Americans employed right now. As a result of Congress’ stonewalling, we have a slower recovery than we should have.

In politics, politicians too often are willing to sacrifice truth and common sense in order to appeal to voters. However, Romney’s statements blaming his opponent for the failure of his own party’s policies, has taken petty politics to a new heights of hypocrisy.

MICKEY HEPNER is the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hepner serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for The Oklahoma Academy.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results