Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- Job creation remains unacceptably weak in the Obama economy, which some Democrats are calling the "new normal." Friday's labor report for July showed there weren't even enough new jobs to keep up with population growth, let alone make a serious dent in the unemployment rate.

The hyperbolic Washington news media played up the 117,000 jobs that were added to our nation's payrolls last month as a turning point in the recovery. But the Labor Department's job numbers were nothing to brag about in a severely lethargic economy that continues to limp along under minimal growth rates at best, and appears to be tilting toward a recession at worst.

Buried in last week's unemployment report was another disturbing fact: The number of Americans who are working is shrinking. But more on that in a moment.

The news media's incomprehensible cheerleading aside, what the July numbers painted was a jobs picture where thousands of discouraged workers are dropping out of the workforce because it is getting harder than ever to find a job.

Let's get realistic: An economy that produced only 117,000 jobs last month, after a scant 46,000 jobs in June, is running at a subpar performance level.

"The economy must add 13.7 million jobs over the next three years -- 382,000 each month -- to bring unemployment down to 6 percent. Considering layoffs at state and local governments and likely federal spending cuts, the private sector jobs must increase at least 400,000 a month to accomplish that goal," reports University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.

To bring the unemployment rate down to that level, the economy needs to grow "in the range of 4 to 5 percent ... over the next several years," Morici says. The economy in the first half of the third year of Obama's remedial presidency was growing at less than 1 percent.

"Jobs creation remains weak, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending and large federal deficits do not address structural problems holding back dynamic growth and jobs," he adds.

Even The Washington Post cautioned that the July job numbers "are nothing to exult over," and were "not enough to push the jobless rate down substantially over time."

While the unemployment rate barely moved from 9.2 percent to 9.1 percent last month, it was largely due to 193,000 Americans who stopped looking for work and dropped out of the job market in frustration. That means they are no longer counted among the unemployed, and thus drive down the overall jobless rate.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.