Business Review Board / April 1, 2016

March Jobs Report: Another Step in Slow Recovery

Total employment in the Obama economy remains at historic lows.

During the month of March, the U.S. economy continued plodding along in its slow recovery from the 2008 economic collapse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March jobs report showed the economy added 215,000 jobs and the unemployment rate edged up slightly to 5%. Wages, which economists worried about because they were not rising, increased by seven cents to $25.43.

But the real story of the economy lies in the percentage of Americans who wake up and go to work every day. Total employment in the Obama economy remains at historic lows. In March 2008, the labor force participation rate hovered at 66.1%. Eight years later, in the midst of a “recovery,” the rate rebounded slightly to 63% in March. Meanwhile, the employment-population ratio — which only measures people who hold down jobs, not people who are hustling for one — stood at 62.7% March 2008. A year later, that ratio sunk to 59.9% — the same ratio America is experiencing today. Part of the cause could be all the Baby Boomers headed into retirement, but the bigger factor is that Obama has focused more on “fairness” through income redistribution than free-market policies that create jobs.

Economists generally think this jobs report is positive. When Americans are returning to the labor force, they are not necessarily looking for a job for long, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman. American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis pointed out job gains this strong haven’t been seen since the late 90s. But the economy is nowhere near where it was in the first quarter of 2008.

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