It does seem odd that 5 years after the recession officially ended, we are still talking about “the recovery.” The reason is because we have never really recovered. Frankly, we should have fully recovered by now and be nearing the natural economic cycle of another recession pretty soon.
Here is the stunning statistic on the economy that tells the whole story about why we aren’t growing faster. Since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in January of 2009,the percentage of the working age population actually part of the labor force (either working or looking for work) has plummeted by 3 percentage points – to 62.7%. Not since early 1978 has such a low proportion of the working-age population been in the labor force. In effect, the labor force is 7.4 million smaller than it otherwise would have been had people either not stopped looking for work or, particularly with the case of younger Americans, simply failed to start looking for work. In effect, nearly as many Americans have either left the work force – or never entered — in this recovery than have found a job.
That’s a very distressing trend. It also explains the big dive in the official unemployment rate to 5.9%. Unemployment keeps going down as more Americans give up looking for a job.
Here’s another trouble spot: the jobs that the economy is creating now aren’t the same caliber jobs that were lose during the recession of 2008 and 2009. Workers who got laid off are increasingly having to settle for lower wage jobs in retail, food services, or leisure and hospitality. This may explain why President Obama and his allies on the left are able to point to McDonald’s workers who are the head of a household. If it’s true that mothers and fathers are having to work as burger flippers, that’s not an argument for raising the minimum wage. It’s asad indictment of this recovery.