The official unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent last Friday, the lowest rate since December 2008.
Numbers buried in the government's fine print, however, suggest that the economy might still be sinking, not recovering.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says we added 236,000 jobs in February, yet the number of unemployed who stopped looking for a job and statistically disappeared increased by 296,000 — 60,000 more than found work.
This is what created the illusion of a falling jobless rate while real joblessness increased and grew more desperate.
Altogether, 89,304,000 adult Americans as of February were classed as "not in the labor force."
The Workforce Participation Rate in February plummeted to 63.5 percent, the lowest proportion of working-age Americans with jobs in 31 years.
This isn't a recovery. It's a slow-motion train wreck. The number of long-term unemployed increased by another 90,000 in February, surging from 38.1 percent to 40.2 percent of the total. Many long-time unemployed have lost job skills and might never again find good-paying jobs.
A large fraction of the jobs reported in February were service-sector, hamburger-flipper kinds of jobs. The February report showed only 14,000 new jobs in manufacturing, equivalent to only 280 such jobs in each of the 50 states.
U6, the official jobs number that includes those with part-time jobs who are unable to find needed full-time work, remains a staggering 14.3 percent, roughly one in seven working age Americans.
The Obama administration is downplaying the February jobs report for several reasons. He predicted doom and gloom, including the loss of 700,000 jobs, if the sequester reduced government spending beginning on March 1. If he is right, then the February down-tick in the jobless rate was temporary, and March unemployment numbers will be much worse.
If, on the other hand, the jobless rate for March does not officially get worse, Republicans then will say that President Obama was "crying wolf" about jobs, and that government spending should be cut a lot more.
President Obama has gotten himself in a bit of a trap here. He expected, with help from media comrades, to blame Republicans for economic damage caused by the sequester. The media and public instead have begun to blame him. He must now hold off on his planned sequester firings and layoffs until his media manipulators can shift public blame to the GOP.
President Obama has spent the last four years expanding government's share of America's Gross Domestic Product from 20 percent to 25 percent and has no desire to put our gluttonous, obese government on a diet.
Government's skyrocketing tax demands and regulatory uncertainty — and the ominous nature of Obamacare in particular — have since December 2007 decreased full-time jobs by 5.8 million and increased part-time jobs by 2.8 million.
President Obama's policies are turning America into a transient, insecure society of companies afraid to hire, of part-time workers, and of renters replacing homeowners — all of which make people more dependent on Big Government and on the Big Government political party.
The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has two official mandates — to protect the value of the dollar, and to maximize employment. Yet Fed Chairman Benjamin Bernanke has said that high unemployment, by holding down wages, is preventing runaway inflation, so the Fed appears to have an interest in unemployment staying high.
The Fed has indicated that for years to come it will keep printing at least $85 billion each month — equal to the entire sequester cuts for 2013 — to prop up the economy, drive the housing market, preserve jobs, and levitate equity spending.
This addictive spending drug has created a hallucination of growth in the stock market, where speculators are hooked on the Fed's easy money.
But all this magic money, conjured out of thin air, risks high inflation and debasement of the dollar — which policymakers might deem useful in the "race to debase" of global currency wars, but which could devastate American consumers.
We are living in Oz, in an economic fantasyland of sky-high borrowing and spending, sinking employment, and declining productivity.
To inspire confidence, the budget that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposes this week needs to offer a path to reality and economic growth, our best chance for recovery after more than four years in a downward spiral.
Lowell Ponte is co-author, with Craig R. Smith, of "Crashing the Dollar: How to Survive a Global Currency Collapse"; "The Inflation Deception: Six Ways Government Tricks Us . . . And Seven Ways to Stop It"; and "Re-Making Money: Ways to Restore America's Optimistic Golden Age." For a limited time, you can get a free postpaid copy of his new book "The Great Debasement: The 100-Year Dying of the Dollar and How to Get America's Money Back" by calling 800-630-1494. Read more reports from Lowell Ponte — Click Here Now.
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