"If you're living in Britain or most of continental Europe (where the unemployment rate is 12 percent) or Japan, the U.S. track record is one to envy, but we Americans have higher expectations for how our economy ought to perform," he adds.
Break down the BLS's April jobs figure, and it isn't what it's cracked up to be. Many jobs were in low-paying retail, hospitality and other service sectors. A third were in temp work. There was no net increase in manufacturing, which the White House has told us is on the mend. Construction lost 6,000 jobs and logging turned negative. So much for the purported building boom.
"This isn't a good economy. By a lot of measures it's terrible," Irwin says. Yes, we are in a kind of a slow-growth recovery that, "if it can go for several more years, will eventually get us out of the muck. But it is also slow enough that the human toll of the crisis will be long and enormous."
Last week, the nation got a chilling peek into one of the dimensions of that human toll in CDC's grim numbers. The fine print in the BLS statistics gave us another -- one that said we still have a long way to go before America is growing again at rates we saw in the '80s and '90s.
But that's not the message President Obama was preaching when he addressed the graduating class of Ohio State University in Columbus on Sunday.
Instead of encouraging these young people to go out into the world and build something, start a new enterprise, or enter the world of venture capital to finance the Apple and Walmart corporations of the future, he seemed to be suggesting that they become more involved in politics.
Obama quoted President George W. Bush, who told the graduating class of OSU in 2002 that "America needs more than taxpayers, spectators and occasional voters." Instead, Obama urged them to get more involved in the democratic process, saying that it "isn't working as well as we know it can," especially in the nation's capital.
What he means by that, of course, is that the government programs he wants to create, the fatter budgets he wants to enact, are stalled in Congress, half of which thinks we spend too much as it is.
We certainly need an active citizenry, but we also need people who dream of creating businesses that put millions of people to work and open new economic opportunities for future generations of Americans.
But I think we know by now that Obama is never going to be a cheerleader for capitalism, wealth creation and a rising tide that will lift all boats. He doesn't want these kids to go out and build a global corporation. His message is to go into public service, run for political office and get into government.
No one knows how many in the class of 2013 already have jobs lined up, but we know that roughly half of all college graduates today can't find work commensurate with their educational skills.
Yet, there was Obama telling these hopeful graduates that they faced "an economy and job market that are steadily healing."
The truth is that it's tough out there in Obama's hard-to-find job market, and it's likely to get worse.