After more than 4 years, President Obama’s promise to lower the unemployment rate finally came through. It’s curious that he decided to raise unemployment before lowering it, but there it is. Unemployment is now at 7.7 percent.
When Obama took office in 2009, the official (U-3) unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. At the same time, the U-6 unemployment rate–which includes those who are no longer looking for work and who, because of the job market, do not have as much work as they’d like–was 14.2 percent.
I get tired of saying it, and it must get tiring to hear, but the U-6 unemployment rate is the true indicator of economic misery.
Under President George W. Bush, the official, misleading unemployment rate ranged from 3.8 percent to 6.3 percent (except during his last five months, during which the housing-bubble crash–which bubble was caused by President Clinton’s Community Reinvestment Act regulations–caused the unemployment to go from 6.5 to 7.8.
That’s when Obama took office. During his reign, the official, misleading unemployment rate has ranged from 7.7 percent to 10 percent, with the average unemployment rate being 8.9.
Compare that with the average official unemployment rate under Bush: 5.2 percent. Obama’s lowest unemployment rate–the best he has been able to muster–was equal to Bush’s highest unemployment rate, until last month, when it finally dropped by one-tenth of one percent. And it took an entire first term to get there. It took Obama’s best efforts over four years to finally get 0.1 percent below Bush’s worst unemployment. And that’s only when you include Bush’s last month in office. If Obama had taken office one month earlier, we’d still be over the unemployment rate then compared to now.
But now let’s look at the U-6 rate under Bush and Obama. As I said, the U-6 is a much better indicator of the jobs situation in America, and from now on, no matter who is president, Republican or Democrat, I will always refer to the U-6 unemployment. That’s what’s fair.
The U-6 unemployment under Bush ranged from 6.9 percent to 14.2 percent and averaged 9 percent. The U-6 unemployment so far under Obama has ranged from 14.3 percent to 17.1 percent and has averaged 15.9 percent.
Barack Obama had said that unemployment by this time in his administration (and much sooner, in fact) would be in the 5′s. In fact, he also said that even if he did nothing, the unemployment would be lower today than it actually is. So it’s fair to say that the lowering of the U-3 and U-6 unemployment rates to the levels we see right now had nothing to do with Obama’s policies. What method he chose to lower the unemployment failed miserably. So it’s logical that the reason we’ve finally reached the symbolic 7.7 mark is in spite of Obama’s policies, not because of them.
However, much like FDR’s policies, which prolonged the Great Depression, Obama’s policies, which have prolonged the recession, will, I have no doubt, go down in history as those that saved the country. In 70 years, that is what will be taught.
Our only hope in making sure the truth is not silenced for future generations is to constantly pound that truth home: By Obama’s own measurement, his domestic policy in the context of employment has been a failure, and by his own admission, the unemployment rate would be lower today had he not meddled with the markets.