After a weekend of crunching the economic data released on December 3, I find more bad than good.
While President Obama and his White House economic team are no doubt comforted by the Department of Labor’s announcement that 120,000 jobs were added in November and that the unemployment rate dipped to 8.6 percent, its lowest level in two and a half years, the report contained a host of grim news. The 0.4 percent decline from 9 percent was triggered primarily by the 315,000 people who gave up looking for work.
To begin with, adding 120,000 jobs barely keeps up with population growth. And since the United States accepts about that same number of authorized-to-work legal immigrants each month, the net new jobs created total is only a few thousand. The trend of American displacement by foreign-born workers has been well established for years. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2011’s second quarter, compared to the same three-month period in 2010, foreign-born workers gained 656,000 jobs, while native-born workers lost 1.2 million jobs.
To grasp what’s going on in today’s economy, we need to understand why those 315,000 people stopped looking for a job and try to project whether they will soon return to their search. First of all, the numbers of people who want a job but stopped looking last month rose by 110,000 and has risen consecutively since November 2010 to today’s total of 6.1 million. If those who want a job but can’t find one were included, the unemployment rate would actually be above 12 percent.
The Congressional Budget Office expects the low participation rate to continue indefinitely for three reasons: 1) baby boomers retiring, 2) the lowest level of women working in twenty years and 3) a steep decline in the numbers of recent college graduates seeking jobs.
The further I dug, the more depressing the news, especially as it relates to African Americans. Despite a large drop in market participation, African-American unemployment increased from 15.1 to 15.5 percent, the opposite of the overall trend.
The largest contributor to African-American employment decline is that last month 20,000 government workers lost their jobs, by far the largest decline for any sector. For years, states, counties and municipalities were aggressive employers. Now however, cost-cutting governments are just as aggressively laying off workers because of declining tax revenues or reduced federal aid.
One in 5 African Americans entered the middle class through government jobs which paid, on average, 25 percent more than other occupations that hire blacks. Now tens of thousands are losing their jobs and involuntarily exiting the middle class. Chicago, for example, will fire 212 employees during the next fiscal year, two-thirds of whom are black.
Too much population coupled with over-immigration in an ever-weakening economy will invariably cause the greatest displacement among society’s most vulnerable, in this case, African Americans.
In a revealing footnote about the administration’s priorities, the Hispanic unemployment rate is 11.4 percent, much stronger than the African American rate. This is consistent with the White House strategy that acquiring the Latino vote is all-important.
© Copyright 2011 Joe Guzzardi, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns, mostly about immigration and related social issues, since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at JoeGuzzardi@CAPSweb.org.