Donald Lambro

This is a sorry record for a chief executive who ran on putting America back to work. But the jobs issue of late has all but vanished from the nation's conciousness and dialogue. In part, because the numbers have been sugar coated by the national news media and all but ignored by the national nightly network news.

Last week, newspapers reported that the mediocre job numbers for December "held steady" and showed that the economy was still creating jobs at a "steady pace." That's like boasting a struggling student's persistent C-minus average "held steady" despite no sign of improvement.

For example, the Washington Post focused its glowing story on the increasing jobs in the nation's construction industry (30,000), but conveniently ignored or played down that much of the weak job growth came in food services and "drinking places" (nearly 40,000) where wages are low.

Here are few examples from last Friday's BLS report that you didn't hear on the nightly network news shows:

-- "In December, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 4.8 million and accounted for 39.1 percent of the unemployed."

-- "Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (7.3 percent) and blacks (14 percent) edged up in December, while the rates for adult men (7.2 percent), teenagers (23.5 percent), whites (6.9 percent), and Hispanics (9.6 percent) showed little or no change."

-- "The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 7.9 million, changed little in December. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job."

-- "In December, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier... These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months."

Note: these 2.6 million Americans were not added to the BLS's 12.2 million jobless number "because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey."

It's hard to find a hard, critical analysis that these jobs numbers demand, but James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute think tank provided one last week. It's headline: "Dismal December jobs report shows another lost year for U.S. workers." It deserves a wider audience.

December's BLS number "was the same old, same old. The increase in total nonfarm payroll employment was only a smidgen better than the average 2012 employment growth of 153,000 jobs per month," Pethokoukis writes.

"And that was exactly the same as the average monthly gain for 2011," he adds. "And at that pace, the U.S. won't return to pre-Great Recession employment levels until after 2025, according to the Jobs Gap calculated from the Hamilton Project."

And consider these stats from his devastating analysis:

-- 14.4 percent: The real unemployment rate when you add part- timers who want full-time jobs and discouraged workers who still can't find a job.

-- 10.7 percent: The unemployment rate if the declining labor force participation rate was at its higher January 2009 level.

-- 5.2 percent: The jobless rate Team Obama forecast for December 2012 if Congress passed his $800 billion job stimulus.

If you're still buying into Obama's jobs claim that "we're making progress" and "moving forward," you've made the Washington news media very happy.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.