Donald Lambro

The politically devastating evidence of millions of Americans who can't find full time work was on the front page of the Washington Post this week. He couldn't have missed the story.

Beneath a blunt headline that read, "Prime-age workers still lost in the recession's undertow," economics reporter Peter Whoriskey reports that the number of Americans "in their prime-working years" (between ages of 25 and 54) who have jobs was "smaller than it was at any time in the 23 years before the recession..."

The shrinking share of these workers now stands at 75.7 percent.

Before the recession hit, it was at 80 percent.

This disturbing figure, more than any other, Whoriskey writes, "captures more of the ongoing turbulence in the job market. It reflects 'missing workers' who have stopped looking for work and aren't included in the unemployment rate."

When he talks about the unemployment rate coming down, Obama never talks about these long discouraged, jobless workers who are never added to the monthly unemployment rate. But Whoriskey says "huge numbers are on the sidelines."

"What it shows is that we are still near the bottom of a very big hole that opened in the recession," says Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a far-left think tank. She estimates the number of missing workers at about 4 million.

The immensity of this economic issue is hard to hide, though the White House, the president, the Democrats in Congress are doing their best to distract voters with other issues that are of little if any concern to most Americans.

About 83 percent of the voters polled by the Post in mid-May said the Obama economy was "poor" or "not so good," reflecting higher negative ratings than in the entire decade preceding the recession.

But the Obama administration is getting a lot of help from the network news programs who have gone to great lengths to bury this story for as long as possible.

With the exception of the monthly unemployment report, most of the network news shows have done little in-depth, serious reporting about the breadth of unemployment in the U.S. in the past three and a half years of Obama's presidency.

And when they do address the subject, they go out of their way to deal with one business that has created some jobs, but not with the bigger picture of the tens of millions who can't find any jobs or are underemployed in part-time, low wage or temporary work and their desperate financial circumstances.

NBC and ABC have been among the worst on this score throughout the Obama presidency. To its credit, the CBS Evening News has aggressively dug into the jobs issue far more aggressively under its new anchor Scott Pelley.

The network news shows this week devoted relatively lengthy segments to irrelevant stories such as Donald Trump's bombastic fascination with Barack Obama's birth certificate, suggesting this an issue that can hurt Romney who dismisses it out of hand.

Over the top network reports such as these "makes clear how deep the media are in the tank for Obama," writes Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is intensifying his focus on the economy and jobs, knowing these are the issues that will decide this election.

Obama may not want to talk about his failed record on these two issues, but he's going to be held accountable for them at the ballot box in the end.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.