Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Saturday, April 03, 2004
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Fuzzy Math

Bush's radio address today:

This week we received powerful confirmation that America's economy is growing stronger. The Department of Labor reported that America added 308,000 jobs in March, the highest monthly job growth number since the spring of 2000. And since August, we've added over three-quarters of a million new jobs in America.

This week we received powerful confirmation that America's President thinks this will bail him out. As I said yesterday, adding 308k jobs is good news. But allow me once again to "look for the manure in a pile of ponies", as The Commissar likes to say.

First, please note that the President's own Council of Economic Advisors predicted that 320k jobs per month would be created each month through December, 20041. Now I'm no good at math, but 308,000 is less than 320,000, so we're still not reaching the bar the White House set back in February. Positive, much-needed growth, yes, but still shy of administration promises.

Second, let's connect the dots a bit. As I noted yesterday, the number of part time workers went up from 4.437M in February, to 4.733M2. That's an increase of 296,000. So that means only 12,000 full time jobs were created in March. Not a whole lot to crow about. That's especially true when you consider that part of the rise was due to 72,000 grocery workers returning to their jobs last month.

But okay, so we've added 759k since August. Let's accept that as a modestly good bit of news for the sake of argument and use August as our benchmark for considering where we are today.

Once again looking at part time employment, we see that in August there were 4.362M people working part time for economic reasons, and today there are 4.733M. That's a 370k change, so almost half of the gains we've enjoyed since August are not full time jobs with good salaries and benefits. Again, not much bragging rights there.

And what of the people who still, despite yesterday's good news, can't find work? Alas, those people have been unemployed longer on average than they were in August: 20.1 weeks now versus 19.6 weeks last summer. That's higher than any point during the Clinton adminstration. Too bad Bush and his GOP pals in Congress don't want to extend unemployment benefits for our fellow Americans.

As far as I'm concerned, Bush's "every thing is going great" attitude is not far removed from this week's Onion:

Responding to the nation's worst unemployment rate since the Hoover Administration, President Bush addressed the nation's 8.2 million unemployed workers in a televised speech Monday.

"The economy has been on the rebound for months, but 5.6 percent of you are still out of work," Bush said. "Come on, people: Get a job! Don't just sit there hoping that you'll win the lottery. Turn off that boob tube, get off that couch, and start pounding the pavement."
Continued Bush: "I heard McDonald's is hiring. What's wrong with that? Does your fancy degree say you can't work at a Mickey D's? You may not be doing exactly what you want, but at least you'll have the pride of knowing that you're earning your living."

Unfortunately, McD's is where a lot of people are ending up, which might explain why weekly wages are down. Speaking of which, the McD's across the street from my office not too long ago had a sign that said they were hiring, with starting wages up to 9 bucks an hour; now it's only 8 bucks. The Bush economic engine: 1 gear forward, 4 in reverse.


1 - That's a more recent benchmark than the 306k that was originally promised as a result of the Bush tax cuts.

2 - These are people who are part time for "economic reasons": they could not find full time work or their work schedules were reduced due to economic pressures. In other words, they are not working part time out of choice. 

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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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