As published in the Colorado Springs Gazette, May 22, 2012
“Figures lie and liars figure.” Often quoted, the iconic author Mark Twain did not suffer fools gladly … especially if the fool was “from the government.” Every government spins numbers to its advantage while opposition points to limitations in the data. Still, people know when what they are being told makes sense, because they relate what they are told to personal experience.
People understand that:
• Regardless of unemployment data, fewer and fewer Americans are working. The combination of those counted as unemployed and underemployed is close to 30 million people, well more than 20 percent of our workforce. Labor force participation is declining to levels not seen in 30 years. In April, with only 115,000 new jobs, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent because the labor force shrunk by 342,000.
• Americans aren’t retiring or leaving the labor force because they are secure. Dashed financially, older Americans as well as the younger and those lacking college degrees (and new graduates, many with onerous debts) are simply unable to find work.
• The tide of illegal immigration has turned. Net immigration is now negative because opportunity here has evaporated.
And people also know that politicians — and special interests funding campaigns — are responsible for the status quo. They will know recovery only when there is a close relationship between the number of unemployment claims and the number of new jobs created, and when inflation-adjusted income rises consistently.