Hope'n'Change: More People Went on Disability than Found Jobs in June

Kate Hicks

7/7/2012 8:57:00 AM - Kate Hicks

It would have been easy for President Obama to miss the finer points of yesterday's jobs report, given that he only spent 26 seconds speaking about it in Ohio. But do these numbers look like "a step in the right direction" to you?

The economy created just 80,000 jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. But that same month, 85,000 workers left the workforce entirely to enroll in the Social Security Disability Insurance program, according to the Social Security Administration.

The disability ranks have outpaced job growth throughout President Obama's recovery. While the economy has created 2.6 million jobs since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits.

In other words, the number of new disability enrollees has climbed 19% faster than the number of jobs created during the sluggish recovery. (Even after accounting for people who left the disability program because they died or aged into retirement, disability ranks have climbed more than 1.1 million in the past three years.)

And the disability ranks will continue to swell. In just the last month, almost 275,000 put in applications for disability benefits. Experts say that more people try to get on disability when jobs are scarce, and changes to eligibility rules enacted back in 1984 have made it far easier to qualify.

Yes -- more people went on the government dole than found jobs, and our president called that progress. The safety net is obviously here to help those who need it, but it's very clear that too many people do need it right now -- in other words, this isn't much of a recovery.

Consider a few more troubling statistics from the jobs report:

[T]he "labor force participation rate" — the number of people who have jobs or are actively looking for one compared with the entire working-age population — is now 63.8%, down from 65.7% in June 2009. This participation rate is at the lowest levels in 30 years. In previous recoveries, the participation rate has almost always risen, not fallen.

Other indicators show that the three-year-old economic recovery isn't producing jobs in adequate numbers:

The unemployment rate has been above 8% for 41 consecutive months. In the previous 60 years, the jobless topped 8% in a total of only 39 months.

The number of people with jobs is still nearly 5 million below its pre-recession peak.

The number of long-term unemployed — those out of work 27 weeks or more — is still 5.4 million — almost 1 million higher than when the recovery began, and almost twice the level it ever reached prior to Obama's recovery.

Fewer people seeking work, more unemployed for longer periods of time. Obama won this election on promises of economic growth, and not only has he failed to deliver, he seems to have exacerbted our struggle. And yet there he is, telling us all we're on the right track.

Really?

Hope and change, everyone! Forward!