The U.S. Department of Labor recently claimed that the number of unemployed workers in America has shrunk to 5.6 percent. And the same source claimed that 252,000 new jobs were created during the month of December and everyone should cheer the success of the Obama administration. Shouldn’t we all be delighted with these numbers?
But there are problems with these claims — big problems. Plenty of seasonal jobs are created during the end-of-the-year, pre-Christmas buying spree. They don’t last. Celebrating temporary seasonal job growth as though it were permanent is dishonest.
Secondly, the unemployment figure doesn’t count the many Americans who have ceased looking for work after months of trying to find a job. Nor does it count others who have part-time jobs instead of the full-time employment they formerly enjoyed and would surely prefer. The statisticians compiling the government’s figures don’t include all of these individuals. If they did, the real unemployment rate swells to 11.2 percent, exactly twice the published figure.
A nation’s economic vitality — including decent-paying jobs — depends on manufacturing. A nation whose people are making things is a nation where wealth is being created. But the number of manufacturers in our country continues to shrink. Everyone knows that the stores are full of imported goods made by others in faraway lands. So, too, are many other items made outside the United States when they were formerly manufactured by Americans.
America’s wealth-producers took a huge hit after enactment of the 1995 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 1993, the United States had a $1.66 billion trade surplus with Mexico. After NAFTA, the surplus disappeared, replaced immediately by a $15.8 billion deficit that has grown to more than $60 billion per year. The jobs that Americans formerly held haven’t returned. Many more have ended up in China where the U.S. trade deficit has ballooned to more than $80 billion per year.
The Obama administration has customarily provided dishonest unemployment figures. But the president and his team are now seeking congressional passage of two additional NAFTA-like trade agreements, one with Pacific-rim nations and the other with the European Union. If these two pacts are approved by Congress, the already bad unemployment situation will grow even worse.
Follow these links to contact Congress and tell them to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). And messages sent to elected officials ought to demand honesty from the bureaucrats who habitually paint the nation’s economic situation with rosy colors when honesty calls for quite the opposite.