Donald Lambro

Barack Obama's rapid plunge into economic, fiscal and foreign policy chaos has dealt a huge political blow to his long-troubled presidency.

In the space of one week, mediocre employment data show the U.S. economy on a steeper downward slide; his party is deserting him on his wildly unpopular plan to bomb Syria; and he's facing a pitched battle in Congress on the budget and the debt ceiling.

Last week's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report for August showed the Obama economy created only 169,000 jobs, well below what economists expected. Previous estimates of the number of jobs created in June and July were also revised sharply downward by 74,000 positions.

According to the government's revisions, the economy created only 104,000 jobs in July, an alarmingly low figure that revealed the economy's severe weakness.

Equally shocking, the data showed the U.S. workforce continues to shrink as many more discouraged job seekers told the BLS they were no longer looking for work, and thus were not counted among the unemployed.

That, not the number of jobs created, was the principal reason why the national unemployment rate fell a notch to a deceptively low rate of 7.3 percent.

The BLS report revealed that a mere 63.2 percent of the nation's working-age population now held a job or were looking for one -- the lowest percentage since 1978.

Close to 90 million Americans were now considered to have left the workforce, an increase of 1.7 million since August 2012. Last month alone, 516,000 more adult workers said they were no longer employed or seeking work.

The network news media usually make no distinction in what kind of jobs are created, leading Americans to think they're all full time. In fact, a very large share of them are temporary or part time.

"Businesses continued the shift toward contingent workers. In August, 123,000 more Americans reported working part time. Since January, the economy has added 813,000 more part-time positions, but only 35,000 full-time jobs," says University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.

For "recent college graduates and middle-aged adults seeking positions, the situation is grim," Morici adds. If you combine the economy's part-timers who want full-time jobs and discouraged adults who have given up their search for work, the real national jobless rate becomes 13.7 percent, he says.

The reasons why are clear. Obamacare's rigid mandates for employers to provide health insurance for their full-time workers encourages them to hire only part-time workers or to cut back on their hourly work week.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.