Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - The government reported last week that the economy created only 217,000 jobs in May, with hardly a peep of serious complaint from the White House or Democrats in Congress.

The news media's economic reporters, who are usually given to whitewashing these dreadful jobs figures, said it was a sign the Obama economy is on the comeback trail. There were no fulminations from Democratic leaders that this was a shameful report in a rich, $17 trillion economy of about 160 million workers, many of whom still can't find good, full-time jobs.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, whose home state of Nevada suffers from 8 percent unemployment, uttered no criticism about the job data or the impotent, economic policies that produced it.

Other Democratic leaders across Capitol Hill were just as mute, but not everyone was going to take this situation lying down.

When the minuscule job numbers were reported on CNBC, the business news network, only Rick Santelli, the popular, pugnacious bond market analyst, didn't mince words. He flatly called the employment figure "mediocre."

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez wouldn't go that far, of course, but even he didn't like the way the job market's been underperforming.

"There's no victory laps being done around here. We have a lot of unfinished business," he said. No kidding?

Still, for the most part, the nightly network news shows generally fell in line with a generally positive, things-are-improving view of the jobs report. But most left out some of the worst statistics that were either buried in the report or showed up elsewhere.

The number of Americans who have been without a job for six months or longer -- about 3.4 million -- remained virtually unchanged. They constitute about one-third of the nation's jobless.

An additional 700,000 people told survey workers for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics they have stopped looking for a job. Add up these dropouts, and the workers who are forced to take part-time employment, when they need full-time, and the real unemployment/underemployment rate is over 13 percent.

Millions of discouraged Americans who have given up looking for a full-time job because they can't find one, or for other reasons, remain the major, driving force behind the decline in the official unemployment rate over the past five years, according to business economist Peter Morici.

More than 7 million Americans who worked in part-time jobs last month said they need full-time employment.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.