Under Obama’s “Recovery”, unemployment has, finally, fallen under 8% again, for the first time since February 2009. This after being promised that only by spending $1 trillion in stimulus money could we hope to keep unemployment under 8%.
On the downside, the U6, which includes those who have given up looking for work plus those working part-time who’d rather be working full time, is at 14.6%. Admittedly, this is down from its high of 17.2% (Oct 2009) and from its 16% average in 2010 and is at its lowest point since April of this year (14.5%). Still, these numbers are far too high, and this administration seems to be doing everything it can to stall a recovery by punishing those who create jobs. As a result, we have far too many people who are unemployed or underemployed, and who depend on the government more than they should or, in many cases, want to be.
Also on the downside, participation in the labor force is at its lowest point in about 30 years. When Obama took office in January of 2009, there were 65.7 million people in the labor force. Currently, that number has dropped to 63.8 million. The last time we had only 63.8 million working or looking for work was in May of 1983. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
But while unemployment has risen and workforce participation has fallen, there’s been an increase in the number of people receiving disability benefits. Since 1960, the number of people receiving disability benefits has exploded, from 455,000 to over 8 million- more than 4 times the number of people receiving basic welfare benefits under TANF. About half of those who are on disability are doing so because of ‘mood disorders’ or ‘ailments of the “musculoskeletal system and the connective tissue.”’ That’s a lot of pe0ple staying home because of ‘the blues’ or backaches. Yes, I realize that these conditions can be serious, and are for a lot of people out there. But they’re also ripe for abuse. Who can prove they’re not suffering from back pain?
According to Nicholas Eberstadt, an economist and demographer at American Enterprise Institute, in “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic”, our ‘worker to disabled’ ratio has fallen from 134:1 to about 16:1 since 1960, despite improved medical care & increased automation. Between January 2010 & January 2011, just over 1.7 million jobs were created, but another nearly 800,000 people started receiving disability benefits. And in December 2010, for every 100 factory workers, 73 people received disability.
This isn’t something that stated with Barack Obama. Or George Bush. Or Clinton. Or Bush I. Its been coming for a long time. And again, there are people who are legitimately disabled, and need assistance. But we need to keep a close eye on where this money goes. Who it goes to. Who really needs it. And who doesn’t.