Nate Jackson / May 6, 2022

Gray Clouds in the April Jobs Report

Initial numbers look pretty good, but the economy is a long way from healthy.

“Record unemployment of 14.7% as more than 20 million Americans lose their jobs.” That was our subtitle two years ago this week as the government shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic that absolutely obliterated the American jobs market. Today’s report of 428,000 jobs added and a 3.6% headline unemployment rate is very welcome news along the road to recovery, though our economy is nowhere near as strong as it was before politicians chose “safety” over sanity.

Worrisome numbers indicate that Donald Trump’s roaring economy is becoming an all-too-distant memory, as we’re still very much mired in Joe Biden’s “recovery.”

It was just last week that we learned GDP in the first quarter had actually dropped at a 1.4% annualized rate. Are we headed for recession? “Never rule anything out,” says Jared Bernstein, a member of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“Average hourly earnings rose 5.5% over the past year, a historically big rise that matched gains from earlier this year,” reports The Wall Street Journal. But wages aren’t keeping up with inflation. When the inflation report comes out next week, virtually no one is predicting that it will be less than last month’s 8.5%. The Federal Reserve’s half-point interest rate hike on Wednesday effectively admitted as much.

Just a reminder: Gas prices averaged $2.38 a gallon the day Biden took office. Today’s average is $4.28 — and far higher than that in most of the states that voted for Biden. Gas drives other prices higher.

The labor force participation rate in April dropped by 0.2 percentage points. The real unemployment rate, which includes a fuller measure of sidelined workers or part-time instead of full-time positions, rose to 7%. According to RealClearPolicy, “There are nearly 3 million workers missing from the workforce compared to when the pandemic first began.” And yet, somehow, there are still more than 11 million job openings in the U.S. “Anecdotally,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, “companies are still saying the biggest issue is a lack of available workers.”

Biden boasted today in a statement that he’d created 8.3 million jobs since taking office, though that’s largely an accident of timing — he took office when the economy was recovering from losing 20 million jobs in two months. That didn’t stop him from gleefully taking credit: “This is a direct result of the American Rescue Plan, our COVID vaccination program, and my plan to grow our economy from the bottom up and middle out.” The truth is all of those policies have made the economy weaker, not stronger. (Firing unvaccinated people created jobs? Come on, man.)

What are the Democrats’ plans to fix the damage they’ve done? More of what caused the damage in the first place, with tax increases to boot.

“If you want to get rid of inflation,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week, “the only way to do it is to undo a lot of the Trump tax cuts and raise rates.” Reminder: Republicans cut taxes across the board, which got the economy really going again. Now that runaway Democrat spending (i.e., the American Rescue Plan) has created rampant inflation, they want not only a lot more spending but also to tax you more. Now that Democrat policies have left employers desperate for already higher-priced workers, they want to raise the minimum wage to $15 and hike taxes on small business owners.

On a final note, Gallup says, “Americans’ confidence in the economy remains very low, and mentions of economic issues as the most important problem in the U.S. are at their highest point since 2016.”

Anyone remember what then happened in 2016?

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