By Mallory Carr
Americans have now been conditioned to expect nothing more than mediocrity in the persistently sputtering job market. And like many of the job reports that have preceded it, the latest news on the state of the economy was largely met with another collective shoulder-shrug.
Although the second quarter saw GDP grow at 4 percent, the average for the first half of the year (given the negative growth in the first quarter) is depressingly modest at .95 percent, well below previous expectations. Over 200,000 jobs were added, but the gains were not distributed broadly and this is far from the boom most economists expect to follow the recession.
Economists and observers have begun to learn to temper their expectations and accept long-run mediocrity. The Weekly Standard called the jobs report “a Goldilocks report” while Commentary magazine characterized it as “so-so.” The New York Times declared there was “little to rant or rave about” given the “glacially slow” pace of growth. Vox was more direct, calling the latest economic news “boring” and “meh” with growth “just slightly north of tepid.”
To the 9.6 million unemployed, 3.1 million of them without jobs for over 6 months, the slow recovery is more than boring—it’s downright painful. Their hope for finding employment and supporting their family shrinks with each new day that goes by and leaves them remaining jobless. This hopelessness has prompted many to leave the labor force entirely, with a million people checking out since last year.
Of the 90 million people not in the labor force, most are women – shedding a different light on the all too familiar “war on women” rhetoric so common among operatives on the political Left. The job market also remains especially terrible for young people, who have been struggling in recent years with some of the lowest employment and labor force rates posted since the government began keeping track in 1948.
Despite a slight drop in the overall unemployment rate last month, the rate rose for blacks and women. For adults with an anything less than a full four year Bachelor’s degree, unemployment is rising as well. In addition, blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to have longer periods of unemployment than whites, putting them at a long-term disadvantage that will likely be hard to recover from even if the economy does begin to take off.
In short, President Obama’s economic “recovery” is leaving behind many of those in the so-called “99 percent” that he and many of his backers were so vocally campaigning to help.
Obama might be patting himself on the back and expecting us to praise these numbers and six straight months of jobs growth above 200,000, but the American people deserve better and are right to be asking for more. Over the past several years, the American dream has become less and less attainable for huge segments of the population that have waited patiently for an economic boom that has yet to materialize.
The Wall Street Journal reports that 76 percent of adults now lack confidence that their children’s generation will have a better life than they do – an all-time high. It’s been five years since the recession officially ended, but you’d never be able to tell by looking at the plight of the average American in the Obama economy. It’s not working, and America needs a change of direction.