Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - President Obama seized upon last week's improved jobs report as "more good news" on the economy, though the true unemployment rate never made the headlines.

Anytime jobs are created it's good news, but a major factor that produced the drop in the official unemployment rate to 8.3 percent was in large part a manifestation of the economy's underlying weakness that the national news media didn't acknowledge or buried in its stories.

Also left unaddressed was the issue of who should get the credit for the job increases. It clearly was not Obama whose stimulus plan failed to make a significant dent in the jobless rate in his first three years in office. But we'll deal with that in a moment.

First and foremost, the real story of Obama's weak jobs performance is about what the Bureau of Labor Statistics' unemployment number leaves out, or at least plays down.

And that's the 2.8 million discouraged American workers who want employment but can't find it and have given up looking. Under the BLS's perverse mathematics, these people are "not counted as in the labor force, even though they wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job in the prior 12 months," the agency said deep down in its report.

Thus, the government does not count them as among the unemployed, even though they are, well, unemployed.

If you add these 2.8 million discouraged workers, who are victims of Obama's failed economic policies, the real unemployment rate is a whopping 9.9 percent instead of the 8.3 percent the administration announced Friday.

Most people do not realize the BLS numbers are the result of a national household survey, i.e. a poll, though it is not the only survey. The Gallup Poll regularly surveys Americans across the country to determine who's working and who isn't, and its numbers put the unemployment rate at a higher 8.7 percent, and the underemployment rate -- workers in temp jobs or part-timers -- at 18.7 percent.

This is the bleak, unarguable reality of the Obama economy and it is one that the Republicans ought to make their number one issue in this year's elections.

Ten percent unemployment is not something to boast about, yet there was Obama at a fire station in Arlington, Va. on Friday, saying "the economy is growing stronger."

The president ought to double check with his people at the Commerce Department who keep track of economic data. Last year, Obama's "stronger" economy grew by a meager 1.7 percent, a pathetic growth rate by any recent standard.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.