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“Are you kidding” followup 2: The actual numbers on who’s better off

Posted: November 5, 2011 at 4:35 am   /   by

[The following is an analysis by David Stewart, Economic Policy Advisor to Speaker Boehner.]

This week, President Obama asserted that Americans are “better off now” under his policies than they were four years ago.  This morning, the Department of Labor announced that the economy has posted its 33 consecutive month of unemployment above eight percent – the level which the Obama administration promised unemployment would stay below if its ‘stimulus’ was enacted.  An examination of the data in today’s jobs report confirms America’s workers are not better off than they were four years ago.

Jumping back in time four years, the labor market certainly did look a lot different.  While Americans then were struggling with unemployment that was also unacceptably high, the situation has gotten far worse under the current Administration.  Here are the stats contrasting four years ago with today:


Are American Workers “Better Off”?
October 2007 October 2011 Worse Off By
Number of Unemployed Americans 7.2 million 13.9 million 100%
Unemployment Rate 4.7 percent 9.0 percent 92%
Average Duration of Unemployment 4 months 9 months 125%
Americans Unemployed 6+ months 1.3 million 5.9 million 354%
African-American Unemployment Rate 8.5 percent 15.1 percent 75%
Hispanic / Latino Unemployment Rate 5.6 percent 11.4 percent 104%
Unemployment Rate < HS Diploma 7.3 percent 13.8 percent 89%
Unemployment Rate for College Grads 2.1 percent 4.4 percent 110%
Teen Unemployment Rate 15.4 percent 24.1 percent 57%
55+ Unemployment Rate 3.1 percent 7.0 percent 126%
Number of Discouraged Workers   320 thousand 967 thousand 202%

It is hard to square the statistics above with the promise made by the Obama administration that the ‘stimulus’ would “keep the unemployment rate below eight percent.”  The administration said the ‘stimulus’ focused “on ready-to-go repairs and maintenance,” deemed “shovel-ready” projects. With unemployment among construction workers at 13.7 percent in October 2011 – up from 6.1 percent four years ago – it’s no wonder the president admitted this summer those “shovel-ready” projects weren’t “as shovel-ready as we expected.”

Unfortunately, recent economic news doesn’t hold many good signs for a quick turnaround.  In addition to 14 million Americans out of work, today’s jobs report continues to show disproportionately high unemployment for minorities, teens and those 55 and older, as well as troubling long-term unemployment trends.  The jobs report today comes on the heels of other indicators that long-term joblessness is reaching deep into the economy.  New Census and Department of Agriculture data revealed that ranks of America’s poorest poor have climbed to a record high – 1 in 15 people – and that 45.8 million Americans – 15 percent – relied on food stamps in August.

What’s more, the administration’s bean counters have been slowly acknowledging a worsening economy.  For example, the administration’s latest budget predicts unemployment of 8.3 percent at the end of the president’s first term compared to a prediction of six percent in its first budget.  Comparing the administration’s predictions in 2009 of where it would steer the economy by the end of the president’s first term to its most recent projections shows we are far from better off under its policies:


Is the Economy “Better Off”?
What Will the Economy Look Like in 2012?
2009 Projection 2011 Projection
Federal Budget Deficit $557 Billion $1,100 Billion
Debt Held By the Public $11.5 Trillion $11.9 Trillion
American Economic Output $16.5 Trillion $15.8 Trillion
Unemployment Rate 6.0 percent 8.3 percent

Republicans’ Plan for America’s Job Creators is a change in direction, away from failed ‘stimulus’ spending and toward a better environment for job creation and long-term economic growth.  The House has already acted on more than 20 common-sense, bipartisan jobs bills to address layers upon layers of excessive government regulations and stifling tax hikes on job creators.  “As long as these bills are stalled in the Senate,” Speaker Boehner said this morning, “I think it is unacceptable for the White House to be anything less than 100 percent engaged in the legislative process.

Learn more about the Republican jobs plan, and track the progress of House-passed jobs bills at



"Are you kidding" followup 2: The actual numbers on who's better off