As Rick Lyman reports on the latest Census Report, he catches OMB’s Rob Portman doing some major spinning:
“Unemployment is low, wages are rising, and there are more jobs in America today than at any other time in history,” said Rob Portman, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
This reminds me that it has been a while since I updated my graphs on the employment to population (EP) ratio and the labor force participation (LFP) rate. As a percent of the population, less people are employed today as compared to what we witnessed in the late 1990’s. While it is true that the unemployment rate has declined the summer of 2003, we should also note that part of the reason unemployment is now below 5% comes from the decline in the labor force participation rate.
The claim that wages are rising appears to be a claim about nominal wages as the real wage (1982$) reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for production or nonsupervisory workers was $8.16 as of July 2006 as compared to $8.30 as of July 2003.
Update: While the White House is spinning happy face numbers, Michael Tanner is spinning a gloomy tale as to LBJ’s War on Poverty:
Despite this government largesse, 37 million Americans continue to live in poverty. In fact, despite nearly $9 trillion in total welfare spending since Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty in 1964, the poverty rate is perilously close to where we began more than 40 years ago.
Tanner has his facts flat wrong. In 1964, the poverty rate was 19%. By 1969, it had declined to 12.1%. Two recessions during the early 1970’s pushed the poverty rate back up but by 1978, the poverty rate was down to 11.4%. Then we had the Carter and Reagan recessions followed by a scaling back of anti-poverty efforts and the Bush41 recession, which tended to push the poverty rate up again. However, the poverty rate declined to 11.3% by 2000.
At least Tanner is not trying to spin the premise that the 1996 welfare reform legislation eliminated poverty in America. After all – poverty has been increasing since the 2001 recession.