EDITORIAL: Brutal numbers behind declining jobless rate

President Barack Obama says this is a “year of action.” He says he will continue to act whenever he can — and alone, if he has to — to create jobs and expand opportunities for Americans during this “prolonged recovery period” following “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

More than five years into his presidency, millions of Americans are wondering if our economy will ever recover from his “recovery.”

The Obama administration likes to make a dig deal about dips in the nation’s unemployment rate. Indeed, the April rate plunged to 6.3 percent, the lowest it has been since the president took office. But contrary to White House hype, the falling unemployment rate is not the result of any of the president’s ideas. The jobless rate is falling because more and more people are frustrated with the economy his ideas have created and they’ve given up looking for work. They’ve dropped out of the labor force and are no longer included in employment counts.

The numbers are terrible. And they’ve been that way for a long time. In fact, the numbers are so bad, that even typically Obama-friendly media outlets have grown tired of coming up with ways to spin them.

“The nation’s workforce shrank by more than 800,000 workers in April, sending the labor force participation rate plummeting 0.4 percentage points to 62.8 percent,” The Washington Post reported. That’s the lowest participation rate in 36 years. “The number of re-entrants — people looking for a job after being out of the labor market — plunged by 417,000, the largest drop on record,” the Post continued. “New entrants declined by 126,000. Many high school and college students typically begin entering the job market in April, but the number of people younger than 25 in the workforce fell by 484,000. The participation rate for teens ages 16 to 19 hit the second-lowest level ever.”

Yes, the economy was in bad shape when President Obama took office, and the administration has gotten a lot of mileage out of citing “the failed policies of the Bush administration.” But President Bush’s missteps pale in comparison with President Obama’s hostile economic policies.

The economy is barely growing. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that gross domestic product grew just 0.1 percent the first quarter of 2014, when economists were predicting a rate at least a full percentage point higher. The White House blamed harsh winter weather. Whatever happened to global warming?

The median income is down. The number of people on food stamps and disability is up. The stimulus didn’t stimulate anything, Obamacare is killing jobs, and regulators have become what amounts to a fourth branch of government. The federal government continues to borrow and spend freely while raising taxes on investors and entrepreneurs. And what is President Obama most excited about these days? A proposed increase in the minimum wage that would harm the workers he says need help. And he still won’t approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would put thousands of people to work immediately.

Higher taxes, unchecked government spending and increased burdens on business don’t drive economic growth. They stifle it. Americans and American businesses need more economic freedom. We need corporate and income tax reform and simplification. We need fewer federal regulations.

If our struggling economy is going to recover, we need some real change — and not the kind under our couch cushions.

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