WASHINGTON -- No single labor statistic speaks more loudly, or more painfully, than the announcement that the Obama economy created a puny 88,000 jobs last month.
Even more shocking was the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that 500,000 long-suffering Americans gave up looking for work and thus were no longer counted among the unemployed, falsely shrinking the jobless rate to 7.6 percent.
A stunned White House had little to say about it. Gene Sperling, assistant to the president for economic policy, blamed the minuscule numbers on the budget cuts, and by implication the Republicans, but could not bring himself to admit the dearth of new jobs was due to chronically weak economic growth under the president's harmful policies.
The embarrassed silence from Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill was palpable and shameful -- though some privately grumbled that if Obama didn't turn the economy around soon, their party was going to get clobbered in next year's midterm elections.
The network news anchors, who've been telling us for months that the economy was picking up, gloomily reported the dreary statistics, then dropped the story from their later broadcasts.
Democratic analysts say this is “the new normal,” and we'd better get used to it. Jobs aren't being created in the kind of numbers we're seen in previous recoveries, we're told. They blame job-replacing mechanization and other technological advances, a declining manufacturing base, ATM machines (Obama's favorite excuse), self-service gas stations and budget cuts.
To which I say, “Baloney.”
The U.S. economy, the largest in the world, should be running at a 4 percent to 5 percent growth rate and pounding the unemployment rate down to 6 percent or lower. It is fully capable of performing at that level with the right fiscal and tax-reform incentives for capital formation and investment; new business creation, the well-spring of most new jobs; opening new export markets; approving the U.S.-Canada oil pipeline; and ending rampant business uncertainty, which is the biggest obstacle to risk-taking and growth.
We're in the fifth year of Obama's presidency, and the American economy has slowed to a crawl because it has uncertainty written all over it. The economic growth rate in the last three months of 2012 was a barely-breathing 0.6 percent.
Consumers are more cautious. Businesses are reluctant to hire and are using more temporary, part-time workers, because they fear being hit by higher taxes and costlier payroll benefits under Obamacare.