WASHINGTON -- President Obama and the Democrats have a lot of anger-inducing issues facing them this election year, including staggering debt, the deficit and an unpopular health-care law. But none is more painful and persistent than the nearly 10 percent jobless rate that continues to gnaw at his party's declining prospects.
The national unemployment rate remains at 9.7 percent despite meager job growth last month, and the consensus among economists and senior government analysts is that there won't be much, if any, improvement for the near future.
Stories about the severe jobless numbers are almost non-existent on the network nightly news shows, despite rates of between nearly 11 percent and more than 14 percent in at least 16 states.
Senior policymakers at the Federal Reserve talk of anemic job growth throughout this year and possibly into 2011. The Congressional Budget Office's economic forecasts for 2010 estimate that the unemployment rate will average 10.1 percent this year and 9.5 percent in 2011.
The nonpartisan CBO earlier this year said it did not expect the jobless rate to fall below 9 percent until 2012.
If this dismal outlook proves correct, it means that Obama's massive spending stimulus binge, which totals more than $1 trillion, will have failed to fix America's number-one calamity in the first two to three, and possibly four, years of his presidency.
"Some economists say the jobless rate will not recede to pre-recession levels near 5 percent for four more years," The Washington Post reported last week.
This gloomy prognosis isn't coming just from Republicans. Democrats at the Federal Reserve say they support continuing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's near-zero federal funds interest rate, because they do not see a pickup in employment this year or next under Obama's nonstimulative policies.
"The relatively modest pace of recovery, the continued high rate of unemployment, subdued inflation trends, and well-anchored inflation expectations together suggest that the need for highly accommodative monetary policies will not diminish soon," said Daniel Tarullo, Obama's only appointee to the Fed's board of governors, in a speech in New York.
The nation's labor force added 162,000 jobs in March. The White House said this proved its spending policies were working, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Temporary, government-created, taxpayer-paid census jobs account for 48,000 jobs, which will disappear when the census is completed in a few months.