Continuing on the job-creation theme, Obama then made the statement that set off the current brouhaha. "The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we've created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone," he said. "The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government .?.?."
First, even with the 4.3 million jobs created by businesses in the past 27 months, private-sector employment is still down 4.6 million jobs from its peak in January 2008.
With millions of fewer jobs, the private sector cannot credibly be described as "doing fine."
Second, comparing the total jobs lost in the private and public sectors since the U.S. employment peak in 2008, Keith Hennessey, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and former director of the National Economic Council at the White House, reports that total private-sector employment is down by 4.6 million jobs, as stated above, while total government employment is down by 407,000 jobs.
In terms of job losses, in short, the private sector is doing less "fine" than the government sector, the opposite of how Obama portrayed it.
"Relative to peak employment in January 2008, we're down 11 private-sector net jobs lost for every government net job lost," reports Hennessey.
Within the employment decline in the government sector, none of the decrease occurred at the federal level. In fact, it's the opposite: There are currently 83,000 more employees on the federal payroll than in 2008. Further, the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 4.2 percent unemployment rate for government workers. That's within the definition of "full employment" in Economics 101.
In contrast, the unemployment rate in the construction industry remains stuck in double digits while the overall unemployment rate in the private sector remains approximately double the rate of unemployment in the government sector, not counting those who've dropped out of the labor force and those who've involuntarily dropped from full-time to part-time employment.
The solution? It's not to borrow more and expand the federal government while hitting the private sector with higher taxes, more regulations and ever-greater levels of uncertainty.
That seems obvious, unless you're stuck on the idea that business is the problem and government is the answer, and that just might be the overriding bias in this White House.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.