The Jobs Picture Is Even Worse Than It Appears

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Employment: As the economy continues to destroy jobs, we hear a new excuse. Frigid weather, the White House says, made the jobs report look worse than it is. Actually, even without snow, it's worse than you think.

Businesses shed another 36,000 jobs during February, the latest jobs report shows, but the unemployment rate remained flat at 9.7%. This, say Democrats in Washington, is a positive sign.

"Only 36,000 lost their jobs today," crowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as if losing thousands of jobs was an achievement.

We're sad to say, the picture is even worse than it appears.

Take that "only 36,000" figure. The real number is actually 51,000 jobs lost, because the government counts 15,000 temporary workers hired by the Census as new jobs. But these jobs aren't, in any meaningful sense, real full-time jobs.

Would things have been better without all the snow? Undoubtedly. But we still would have lost jobs.

Then of course there's the very definition of unemployment.

If you count those who are discouraged or working part-time when they want a full-time job, the jobless rate soars to 16.8%.

Private sector employment gauges pretty much show the same thing. For instance, the pollsters at Gallup each month ask Americans questions about their employment. In February, the Gallup report shows, some 19.8% of Americans reported that they were underemployed or not employed at all.

That's one out of five workers - and even more than the 15 million unemployed estimated by the government.

What's troubling is the obliviousness of Washington to this problem - the utter cluelessness they have about the most basic economic principles that guide our economy.

With businesses struggling and fearful about the future, all the talk in Washington is about more reckless spending and taxing.

They push ahead with a $2.5 trillion plan to take over 17% of the economy, while both Social Security and Medicare run on fumes and hover near bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, Democrats think of the tax bonanza they'll get from letting President Bush's 2003 tax cuts expire at the end of this year, but don't consider that it will devastate the economy.

Add to that cap-and-trade, new "fees" levied on banks, and the Obama administration's pledge to hammer those with incomes above $200,000 - that is, our entrepreneurial class - with higher taxes, and it's not hard to see why new jobs aren't being created. Talk of a business-killing "value-added tax" emerging from President Obama's deficit commission isn't helping, either.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury released its latest long-term financial outlook, and found that in the last nine months the U.S. long-term fiscal deficit has soared 21% to $76 trillion.

By the Obama Treasury's own admission, that's unsustainable. Yet the fiscal path the administration has us on would make it even worse. Given all this, it's amazing the economy's growing at all.

Just you wait, we keep hearing. The economy's going to really get going when the snow melts and hiring will take off. Well, maybe so.

But so far since the recession ended last summer, the Obama recovery has included average GDP growth of 4% and close to 1.1 million jobs lost. At this point after the 1982 recession, following President Reagan's across-the-board tax cuts of 25% and cuts in spending growth, the economy was growing at a 7%-plus clip with 1.7 million new jobs. You tell us: Which is better?

Unless we act, and soon, to cut taxes and reduce the size of government, the U.S. will enter a protracted period of slow economic growth, stagnant wages, and permanently high unemployment.

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