First-quarter gross domestic product numbers for 2013 were recently revised -- downward from 1.8 percent to 1.1 percent. For perspective, four years into the recovery from the last deep recession in '81-'82, the economy grew at 4.1 percent.
What about the declining "labor force participation rate"?
This counts the percentage of civilians 16 years and older working or actively looking for work. When President Barack Obama took office, the labor force participation rate was 65.7. Today it is 63.4, up 0.1 from April's 34-year low. Frustrated, many able-bodied and able-minded would-be workers have simply given up looking for jobs.
The number of people receiving federally subsidized food assistance today exceeds the number of full-time, private-sector working Americans. The number of Americans receiving foods stamps (now called SNAP) has reached 47.5 million, increasing an average of 13 percent a year from 2008 to 2012. Almost 9 million disabled American workers currently collect federal Social Security benefits -- double the number of disabled in the late '90s -- many admitting that they could work, but choose not to look.
Just to break even -- to keep pace with new entrants into the market -- the economy must produce 150,000 jobs per month. To date, Obama's four years of recovery have produced 4,657,000 jobs -- an average of 97,020 per month. At this juncture in the '80s, following the last big recession, the economy had produced 11.2 million new jobs, or 233,333 per month.
Even left-wing media outlets like ABC and The Washington Post cannot pretend that this is normal. About the advance estimate of the most recent quarter's dismal 1.7 percent growth, a Post business writer said: "It isn't even mediocre. It's terrible. It's a sign of the diminished economic expectations ... that it's anything to crow about at all. ABC called this latest report "disappointing." Of course, neither ABC nor The Washington Post attributed the disappointing results to anything President Obama has done.
But President Ronald Reagan took an entirely different course than has Obama. Reagan dramatically lowered taxes, reduced the speed of domestic spending and continued deregulation policies of Jimmy Carter. The economy took off, and three years into recovery, had produced an 8.9 percent increase in civilian employment -- almost 9 million jobs, with a post-recovery GDP that averaged over 5 percent.