The unemployment numbers for the month of August were released today, and the news was not good. With 466,000 new unemployed men and women last month, the total rate jumped to 9.7% and 14.9 million people are now out of work. This is the highest level in 26 years - and it raises several questions in my mind.
First, how honest are Democrats being about the total number of folks who lost their jobs last month? The Bureau of Labor Statistics press release said that 216,000 non-farm payroll jobs were lost and a total of 466,000 people became unemployed. Yet in a press release just issued by House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, he states that only 216,000 jobs were lost. Well, which is it? BLS gives the total number, and House Democrats are only focused on part of that? Forgive me, but I thought that through all of the last eight months of discussion by Democrats about being concerned for all Americans they were genuinely concerned about all Americans. Why aren't they including all of the unemployed in their figures? Are they only concerned about non-farm workers?
Oh, wait - I know (and it brings me to point 2): it undercuts their claims of having saved or created 750,000 jobs since the stimulus bill was signed into law. You remember - the stimulus bill that was going to save or create millions of jobs and keep unemployment below 8%. Vice President Biden was touting that fact in a speech earlier this week, but with today's news it seems to fall flat. As I commented on another site, my math is not great so I'm having a difficult time figuring out how the saving and creating of 750,000 jobs since the stimulus was passed stil results in a 9.7% rate and nearly 470,000 additional jobs lost in just the last month.
Either we're creating a helluva lot more jobs that are balanced out by the jobs lost - ending with a net of 750,000 - or the recovery folks are as bad at math as I am. My money is the latter.
So how do we fix the problem and get folks back to work? 14.9 million unemployed is 14.9 million too many, but under-reporting numbers in press releases and running fast and loose with the statistics in speeches doesn't help. If we don't truly know - or if at least members of Congress and the Administration only say what they want us to hear - how bad things are, then we won't be able to determine how large the solution needs to be. Obviously, the vaunted stimulus bill wasn't the answer. Democrats get points for effort, but it's not something they can solve alone - a fix is going to take efforts at real bipartisanship and real cooperation, not simply using the words to impress constituents back home.