Donald Lambro

The percentage BLS announced three days before the elections reported that October's jobless rate had edged back up to nearly 8 percent, well, 7.9 percent to be exact. But job statistics like this one can hide politically sensitive unemployment data that go unreported in the national news media.

The 171,000 new jobs on net were trumpeted by Obama and his friends in the news media as a great leap Forward, as his campaign slogan says. But Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics,told the New York Times, "we're still not making enough progress to bring that unemployment rate down significantly and rapidly."

Many of the job gains were in part-time work for people who sought full-time. Getting even less notice was hourly wages which barely budged in October and have shown little growth over the past several months.

A report from the National Employment Law Project, a liberal, labor advocacy group, said the majority of jobs created since the recession have been lower-paying ones.

September's unemployment decline below 8 percent, for the first time since Obama assumed office, was seen by some as a fluke, and a suspicious one at that: pushed downward by a multi-billion dollar defense spending binge in the closing months of the 2012 fiscal year.

But the real unemployment rate rises to 9.6 percent when long-term, uncounted, jobless workers who have stopped looking for work, are added to the equation.

Throw in eight million part-timers who desperately need full-time work, and the rate zooms to 14.6 percent, says University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.

Officially, roughly 12 million unemployed Americans are searching for a job and two out of five of them have been looking in vain for half a year or more.

The truth is that the mediocre job numbers we've seen this year, as we did last year, have not kept pace with worker population growth.

Economic growth "is weak and jobs are in jeopardy, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending, large federal deficits, expensive but ineffective business regulations, and costly health care mandates championed by Obama do not not address the structural problems holding back dynamic growth and job creation," Morici says.

The American economy is in trouble enough, but it will get worse before year's end. That's when the White House and Republicans in a lame duck Congress must prevent it from tumbling off the "fiscal cliff" and possibly into another recession.

When the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, President George W. Bush's across-the-board income tax cuts will expire, if they're not extended or made permanent by then. The hour will also trigger automatic spending cuts that will carve $500 billion from the budget, including deep cuts in the Pentagon that will result in widespread defense industry layoffs.

That, too, is when the president is threatening to play a game of chicken with Republicans on Capitol Hill, vowing to veto any bill that does not raise the two top tax rates for wealthier Americans.

Add a high stakes, debt-ceiling battle and a threatened shoot-out over the Social Security payroll tax cut, and it'll make this year's nasty campaign wars look like summer camp.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.