The economy shed 345,000 jobs in May and the unemployment has jumped to 9.4 percent, its highest level since 1983, and this is regarded as good news? Yes. In a way, it is good news, as it agrees with other evidence that the rate of decline in the economy is abating. Abating means it’s still declining, but not as fast, which is an obvious necessary step before the economy can find a bottom this fall and then begin actually to grow again.
During last year’s political campaign and as he was selling his so-called “fiscal stimulus,” President Obama repeatedly said that he would create 3.5 million new jobs by the end of 2010. More recently, he made a similar claim in saying that the stimulus had already created or saved 150,000 jobs, a rather remarkable claim at a time when employment since the President’s inauguration was down over 2 million jobs.
The President has also made a big deal about the importance of measuring his presidency by results. So, holding him at his word, President Obama’s 3.5 million jobs promise means that non-farm payroll employment (the typical measure) needs to be at least 138.6 million by the end of 2010. Employment in May was 132.2 million according to this morning’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report. So the Obama jobs deficit has now climbed to 6.4 million jobs. The President had better get busy.